Southern California Wildfires (Dec 2017)

Several wildfires continue to burn across parts of Southern California. As of Friday December 15, they have destroyed at least 1,267 structures, including at least 974 structures destroyed in the Thomas Fire near Ventura, Ojai, and Santa Barbara. The Thomas Fire is now the fourth largest wildfire in California history, according to officials. It is still only 35% contained, according to CAL FIRE, and may spread further on Sunday with the return of moderate Santa Ana winds. The Skirball and Creek Fires in Los Angeles County are 90% and 98% contained respectively, according to the fire services. The Lilac Fire (San Diego County) is 98% contained. The Liberty Fire (Riverside County) and Rye Fire (Los Angeles County) are both 100% contained, according to CAL FIRE. As of Thursday December 14, there have been two confirmed fatalities. At the peak of the fires, 212,000 people were evacuated. According to CAL FIRE, 94,000 people are still under evacuation. A state of emergency has been declared in California to aid the local relief efforts . The wildfires developed rapidly on the evening of December 4-5 and were fuelled by powerful Santa Ana winds of up to 50 mph (80 km/hr), low humidity, and extremely dry conditions across Southern California. Thomas Fire, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties . The Thomas Fire is the largest active fire in Southern California. It is only 35% contained with current weather patterns and rugged terrain making firefighting efforts very difficult. According to the CAL FIRE incident update of 19:00 local time on Thursday December 12:. 730 single family residences have been destroyed and 171 have been damaged. Two multi family dwellings and two mixed commercial/residential dwellings have been destroyed. 18 commercial structures have been destroyed and 222 minor structures have been destroyed. 18,000 additional structures are threatened. The fire has burned an area of 249,500 acres (100,970 hectares), making it the fourth largest in California history. The expected containment date is January 7, 2018, according to CAL FIRE. Lilac Fire, San Diego County . According to CAL FIRE, 157 structures have been destroyed and 64 have been damaged. The fire has burned 4,100 acres (1,660 hectares) and is 98% contained. A state of emergency was declared in San Diego following the outbreak of the Lilac Fire. Creek Fire, Los Angeles County . According to the fire services, 123 buildings have been destroyed and 81 have been damaged. The fire has burned 15,619 acres (6,300 hectares) and is 98% contained . Around 2,500 structures remain threatened . Rye Fire, Los Angeles County . The Rye Fire is 100% contained, according to the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. According to the Fire Department’s final incident update, released at 18:00 local time on Tuesday December 12, no structures were damaged or destroyed in the Rye Fire, although an earlier report stated that 6 structures had been destroyed. The fire burned an area of 6,049 acres (2,450 hectares). Skirball Fire, Los Angeles County . According to the Los Angeles Fire Department at 19:00 on Wednesday December 13, 6 structures have been destroyed and 12 have been damaged in the fire, including several in Bel-Air. The fire has burned 422 acres (170 hectares) and is 90% contained. Liberty Fire, Riverside County . The City of Murieta reports that the Liberty fire is 100% contained. According to officials 1 structure and 6 outbuildings have been destroyed . The fire impacted a 300 acre (121 hectare) area. Fire Forecast . A red flag warning is in place for the Sierra Nevada and Kern County Mountains; Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; and the counties between Los Angeles and San Diego. Gusty winds are forecast to die down today, Friday December 15, and cooler air is expected to settle in the affected areas on Saturday. The persistence of rain-free conditions and the return of Santa Ana winds forecast on Sunday is expected to increase the fire risk later in the weekend.

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