Powerful Winds Fuel Wildfires in Southern California

The southern part of California is currently fighting powerful winds which fuel wildfires. Numerous firefighters are working day and night, trying to put an end to this hellish nightmare. On Thursday, December 5th, the weather forecast shows that powerful winds might appear to make the situation even more difficult.

Hence, firefighters expect winds to pick up and fuel wildfires which seem to become more and more powerful. The fire engulfed massive areas of land, incinerating numerous neighborhoods. Over 110,000 were evacuated. Tim Chaves is a fire behavior analyst for CallFire. He argued during a press conference that people firefighters need to continue working to stop the disaster, putting out the fire. This fire is likely to grow even more in case the wind becomes more powerful.

Firefighters do their best to win this fight

On Wednesday, December 6th, firefighters were able to catch a break when the winds stopped for a while. The high winds that specialists forecasted might just complete the recipe and trigger an “explosive fire growth”. High winds, a fire danger of 296 and a humidity of less than 10% are the most dangerous “ingredients” for a terrific fire growth that burnt numerous houses, affecting hundreds of people.

The images look as if they are part of a horror, apocalyptic movie, where great clouds of black smoke rise and massive flames take on the scenery. Numerous cities in the Ojai Valley are currently under mandatory evacuation. They are forced to leave their houses as the fire heads towards them. Furthermore, satellite images from the National Weather Service revealed the city of Ojai being surrounded by fires.

Firefighters argue that they are doing their best to keep the Skirball Fire at bay. However, they are afraid that the fire it may reach the west of Interstate 405. The growing fire forced over 260 Los Angeles charter and public schools to close on December 7th, and they will remain closed on Friday, as well. Daryl Osby, the Chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said that other fire departments from other states are sending 300 engines to help them put out the fire.

On Wednesday, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, located north and west of Los Angeles, has significantly grown to over 140 square miles. The officials of the county argue that they did not yet establish the exact number of homes that got destroyed by the wildfires. The flames in affected neighborhoods were still too intense in order for them to start an examination.

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The powerful winds fuel wildfires

On Wednesday night, specialists have estimated approximately 150 affected buildings. However, officials also added that the number of burned buildings might increase as they will focus on damage assessment. They are likely to analyze the damages only after firefighting and rescuing people. On Wednesday, the Thomas Fire has also threatened some beachfront homes in Ventura, California.

Jerry Brown, the California Government, has announced an emergency for the county, freeing state resources to support the rescue efforts. The Los Angeles County Fire Department has sent numerous helicopters to make water drops. The massive quantities of water swept up a steep canyon wall. The homes situated in the area were not threatened by both water and fire. On Wednesday, the Skirball fire has destroyed the Bel Air district.

Nevertheless, the largest blaze is the Thomas fire. It first started north of Santa Paula, and then it spread to Ventura, a coastal city located north of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, dry conditions and powerful Santa Ana winds continue to fuel the wildfires, transforming the area into a devastating picture. The Skirball Fire which has spread over 475 acres, near the Bel-Air area of Los Angeles. This massive wildfire scared people driving on Interstate 405.

Officials needed to shut down a 9-mile stretch of the busy freeway for several hours because the fire got closer to the road. Many people have described the event, being terrified by the giant flames engulfing the fields. Tiffany Lynette Anderson, a motorist on Interstate 405, says that she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the giant mass of orange before her eyes. Joy Newcomb also drove by the fire, saying that the heat was so strong that you could feel it on the car’s windows.

A firefighter wearing his protection costumes

Firefighters cannot fight against powerful winds which fuel wildfires.

Containing the fire is a nightmare

Los Angeles authorities asked some parts of the Bel Air district to evacuate the area. This only represents a small part of the areas that have been ordered to evacuate in Southern California. The thick smoke made the air unbreathable, increasing the level of air pollution in the area. Furthermore, smoke even collected in areas where the fire did not even reach. Health officials have already raised awareness for people living in San Fernando Valley and other parts of the northern Los Angeles to avoid or limit time outdoors.

Specialists indicate that the smoke from the fire could even be seen from the International Space Station. The astronaut Randy Bresnik has reported seeing the fire from space, praying for all those who fight the massive flames. Forecasters predicted the Santa Ana winds which have triggered the wildfire to move even further, intensifying.

Numerous residents gathered in street corners and gas stations, looking at the massive flames and wondering whether they will also need to evacuate. Firefighters managed to contain about 5% of the Thomas fire, most of it being along the southeast flank in the Santa Paula area. On Wednesday, officials focused on keeping the fire out of the Ojai Valley.

Forecasters predicted the Santa Ana winds to become even more powerful on Thursday. Unfortunately, these powerful winds will not allow firefighters to put out the fire. Hence, they will be unable to stop the disaster. Officials have also announced that residents need to constantly pay attention to the new announcements. They have to listen carefully to their advice and evacuate when they are told so.

Summing up

The massive disaster in South California proves that man has no power against nature. The strong efforts to contain the fire seem to be useless. Firefighters did their best to put out the fire, but the weather conditions are too harsh. The humidity and the strong winds prevent them from succeeding in the battle against fire.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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