Several large wildfires have forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Southern California, and persistent Santa Ana winds will challenge firefighters looking to contain the blazes.
The largest of five active fires, the Thomas Fire, began on Monday near the town of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California. It exploded in size during the overnight hours on Tuesday and is currently 115,000 acres and five percent contained. It is threatening 15,000 structures with many already destroyed.
In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire and Rye Fire have burned 15,323 acres and 7,000 acres respectively. Both fires triggered evacuation orders and road closures, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
On Wednesday morning, a fourth wildfire erupted, this time near the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass section of Los Angeles. This fire is being called the Skirball Fire.
The first major fire in San Diego County broke around midday Thursday and is being called the Lilac Fire. The fire grew to over 2,000 acres in a matter of hours, leading to mandatory evacuations.
Santa Ana winds will continue to whip through Southern California through the rest of this week, threatening to spread these blazes and any new fires that ignite rapidly.
More lives and homes will be threatened, and residents living in the Santa Ana wind-prone areas should prepare for the possibility of needing to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
“The winds will make it difficult to get air support to these wildfires,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. “Helicopters may be able to aid firefighters, but the winds can be more problematic for larger aircraft.”
7:00 p.m. PST Thursday:
Winds are starting to decrease across Southern California but will remain breezy throughout the night.
Sill Hill in San Diego County recorded one of the highest wind gusts across the region with winds on Thursday morning being clocked at 88 mph.
6:00 p.m. PST Thursday:
California Governor Edmund Brown has declared a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Lilac Fire.
Ten school districts across San Diego County will be closed on Friday due to the fires, power outages and the continuation of strong winds.
A wildfire burns off of the hills next to CA-126 highway, just northwest of Fillmore, Calif, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Thousands of homes remain threatened by at least four major Southern California wildfires that have destroyed structures and sent residents fleeing. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers)
4:55 p.m. PST Thursday:
All evacuation orders BOOKr.VIP to the Creek Fire have been updated with the exception of the Limekiln Canyon.
The Creek Fire has burned over 12,600 acres and was 10 percent contained as of late Thursday afternoon.
#CreekFire Update: At 4:00 p.m this evening all Evacuations Orders and warning have been lifted except for the Limekiln Canyon which remains closed. The Shadow Hills area north of Sunland Boulevard, Ebey Canyon and Doane Canyon are open to residents only. pic.twitter.com/RuSHIYhsxa
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) December 8, 2017
Meanwhile, the Lilac Fire continues to grow at an explosive rate, expanding to 2,500 with zero percent containment.
At least two people have been injured due to the Lilac Fire and have been transported to safety.
#LilacFire [update] Two civilian burn victims are in the process of being treated & transported.
— CAL FIRE SAN DIEGO (@CALFIRESANDIEGO) December 7, 2017
3:10 p.m. PST Thursday:
A new wildfire has sparked between Los Angeles and San Diego near Murrieta, California.
This new fire is being called the Liberty Fire and has already burned 225 acres and is threatening buildings.
Meanwhile, San Diego County officials have declared a local state of emergency due to the Lilac Fire. This will allow federal and state resources to be opened up to be used for the blaze.
At least 1,000 structures are threatened by the rapidly growing fire, burning near Fallbook, California.
2:00 p.m. PST Thursday:
The Lilac Fire has grown to 500 acres and remains zero percent contained.
New evacuation orders have been issued in response to the rapid growth of the fire. Residents nearby that are not currently in areas under evacuation should begin to prepare to evacuate if the order is given.
#LilacFire [update] The fire is now 500 acres & 0% contained. New evacuation warnings are in effect:
North of Pala Rd.
South of Reche Rd.
West of I-15 Freeway
East of Green Canyon Rd. & W. Mission Rd. pic.twitter.com/zRxlhLPeqq
— CAL FIRE SAN DIEGO (@CALFIRESANDIEGO) December 7, 2017
12:38 p.m. PST Thursday:
A new fire has broken out in San Diego County near Fallbook, California.
The blaze, which is being called the Lilac Fire, is burning near I-15, so motorists should use caution when driving through the area.
The fire is being fueled by strong winds and has already burned 100-150 acres. Two structures have already been destroyed, another 12 have been damaged, according to CalFire.
Mandatory evacuations have already been issued for the Lilac Fire, which includes Sullivan Middle School and Bonsall High School. Buses are on the way to pick up the students from the schools.
10:47 a.m. PST Thursday:
Firefighters have already stopped the brush fire in Malibu officials had labeled the Horizon Fire. No structures have been damaged and no injuries were reported.
UPDATE: #BrushFire in #Malibu forward progress of has been stopped. 1/4 acre burned. @LACoFireAirOps made water drops to quickly knock down fire. @LACo_FD firefighters working on mopping up hot spots. No structures damaged & no injuries at this time
— LACounty Fire PIO (@LACoFDPIO) December 7, 2017
Elsewhere, the Skirball Fire has burned 475 acres and is 5 percent contained. The fire has damaged 11 structures and destroyed four. More than 700 homes in a 3.2 square mile area have been evacuated.