California wildfire: mass evacuation in Ventura country

Frederick Owens
December 6, 2017

A fast-moving wildfire has prompted evacuation orders for almost 8000 homes in southern California, which has killed one person in a related road accident. Soon after, the hospital was "razed to the ground" by the fire, according to a local news report.

The Ventura County Fire Department said that thousands of homes were being evacuated overnight in East Ventura.

Now it is threatening the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura, officials say. More than 27,000 people were evacuated and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.

The winds were pushing it toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 97km northwest of Los Angeles. It reached the northern edge of Ventura, a city with a population of more than 100,000, by 2 a.m. "Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out".

One person was killed in a vehicle crash while trying to evacuate from the fires, Ventura County Fire chief Mark Lorenzen said in a news conference, according to CNN.

At least two structures have already burned and power outages have been reported across the county.

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The dry air and hurricane-force winds were expected to create "critical fire conditions" in the area starting tonight, and the forecasts indicated the region could see Red Flag Warnings up through the next four nights and days.

The fire also struck some key transmission lines, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.

The gusty conditions are expected to shift toward Southern California on Monday and last through Thursday, with some areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties possibly experiencing isolated gusts as high as 80 miles per hour.

Adding to the difficulty of fighting this fire, the National Weather Service predicts continued high winds and low humidity throughout the week.

The blaze took hold in the early evening in southern California's Ventura County and burned 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) within a few hours.

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