Dec 10, 2017, 4:07 PM ET

As California firefighters get ahead of some wildfires, others still rage

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Communities along Southern California's coast were still seeing fresh evacuations on Sunday as the seemingly unstoppable Thomas fire, fueled by plentiful brush and shifty Santa Ana winds Several swaths of the city of Carpinteria were placed under mandatory evacuation overnight and into Sunday, fire officials confirmed, as the blaze continues to threaten structures.

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The Thomas fire, which since Monday has been battled by 4,400 firefighters and has torched 173,000 acres, remains only 15 percent contained.

One firefighter suffered an injured leg while battling the Thomas fire, Cal Fire officials confirmed to ABC News.

It has also knocked out power lines to thousands and Cal Fire told The Associated Press that they classified it as the 10th largest wildfire, and the 13th most destructive in California history.

There was also limited refuge for the evacuees as parts of Ventura, Ojai, Casitas Springs, Santa Paula and Fillmore are still being threatened by blazes, fire officials said.

The news of the fire's continued devastation in the already scorched region comes a day after firefighters across Southern California made dramatic headway in the week's battle against six major wildfires that have dragged the state's fire season well into December.

On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown surveyed some of the remains of Thomas Fire, which started in Ventura, fire officials said.

The governor said the prolonged fire season is becoming the norm.

"[We're] facing a new reality in the state," he said. "It's a horror and a horror we need to recover from."

He also noted that the years of drought and climate change have caused experts to conclude that "California is burning up."

From here on in California, Brown said, fires are going to be more "intense" and penetrate lives and property.

"Individuals need to come together to make our communities livable," he said.

The breakdown of the blazes and shift in winds gave firefighters in the region much-needed respite.

The newest blazes, the Lilac fire in San Diego County and the Liberty fire in Riverside County, which was 20 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, are also being fueled by continued Santa Ana winds and low humidity, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

PHOTO: Huge smoke clouds rise into the sky at the Thomas fire, Dec. 9, 2017 at Los Padres National Forest in California.Gene Blevins/Polaris
Huge smoke clouds rise into the sky at the Thomas fire, Dec. 9, 2017 at Los Padres National Forest in California.

ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo said the forecast for those fire-ravaged areas remains serious.

Red flag warnings have remained in effect for much of Southern California with peak wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph. Low relative humidity –- as low as 5 percent -- is likely through this period, as well, Manzo said.

Winds could exceed 50 mph in the mountains east of San Diego, an area that was of particular concern for fire growth on Sunday.

PHOTO: U.S. forest fire crews fight fire with fire as they set off huge backfires to cut off the northern flank of the Thomas fire near Rose Valley recreation area in Los Padres National Forest in California, Dec. 9, 2017.Gene Blevins/Polaris
U.S. forest fire crews fight fire with fire as they set off huge backfires to cut off the northern flank of the Thomas fire near Rose Valley recreation area in Los Padres National Forest in California, Dec. 9, 2017.

Winds gusts in Ventura and Los Angeles counties were expected to diminish Sunday afternoon from 60 mph to 45 mph due to an onshore flow beginning to develop, according to Cal Fire's website.

The winds had exceeded 60 mph during the week, causing embers to spread.

Gusts were in the 30 to 50 mph range in San Diego County and 25 mph in Santa Barbara where the evacuations were taking place.

Low humidity around Southern California has staggered in the teens to single digits.

PHOTO: Jeff Rodriquez, left, and his son Casey help a friend move belongings after the Thomas fire destroyed most of the apartment building on North Kalarama in Ventura, Calif., Dec. 8, 2017. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
Jeff Rodriquez, left, and his son Casey help a friend move belongings after the Thomas fire destroyed most of the apartment building on North Kalarama in Ventura, Calif., Dec. 8, 2017.

It took 8,500 firefighters to battle the first four large wildfires and then new ones have continued spreading rapidly, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Overall, the six blazes have burned more than 200,000 acres and forced more than 98,000 residents from their homes.

A 70-year-old woman was identified Friday as the first victim of the fires. Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, was killed in a car crash as she evacuated Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

PHOTO: The remnants are seen after brush fire swept through residential neighborhoods on Maripoca Highway near Ojai, Calif., Dec. 8, 2017. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
The remnants are seen after brush fire swept through residential neighborhoods on Maripoca Highway near Ojai, Calif., Dec. 8, 2017.

The Skirball fire is small, but its threat to heavily populated areas of Los Angeles, including Bel Air, has drawn widespread attention.

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and 17 schools on Los Angeles' west side were shuttered last week, citing the poor air quality. At least 265 schools have been closed. UCLA canceled classes during the week because of the Skirball fire.

On Friday, the district announced that all schools will reopen Monday.

Thomas fire

The Thomas fire in Ventura County, the largest of the six blazes, started Monday night as a 50-acre brush fire in foothills east of Santa Paula and grew to 10,000 acres in just four hours, authorities said.

The fire had burned 173,000 acres of land by Sunday morning and was holding at just 15 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

More than 98,000 residents were evacuated, and 25,000 structures are threatened by the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

PHOTO: A home burns early Sunday morning, Dec. 10, 2017, off Gobernador Canyon Road in Carpinteria, Calif. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP
A home burns early Sunday morning, Dec. 10, 2017, off Gobernador Canyon Road in Carpinteria, Calif.

The Thomas Fire has since spread to Santa Barbara County late Thursday, prompting California Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a state of emergency for the county, the third to be designated.

There were 9,000 firefighting personnel on the scene of the massive blaze.

Authorities said 834 structures were destroyed in the blaze and more than 100 were damaged.

Officials were concerned about part of the Thomas Fire heading northeast and threatening a nursing home in Ojai. The 25 residents and staffers there were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said. It's unclear if the seniors have returned to the nursing home or remain evacuated.

Creek fire

The Creek fire, in the Kagel Canyon area above Los Angeles' Sylmar neighborhood, has scorched 15,619 acres of land, destroyed at least 105 buildings and damaged another 70. Over 150,000 residents were evacuated and some 2,500 structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and 1,964 personnel are fighting the flames.

PHOTO: Firefighters knock down flames as they advance on homes atop Shepherd Mesa Road in Carpinteria, Calif., Dec. 10, 2017. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP
Firefighters knock down flames as they advance on homes atop Shepherd Mesa Road in Carpinteria, Calif., Dec. 10, 2017.

The Creek fire was responsible for the death of almost 40 horses at Rancho Padilla, according to ABC station KABC in Los Angeles. The horses were trapped in a barn that burned to the ground as the owners were evacuated with no warning.

All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted by Saturday morning.

Rye fire

The Rye fire has scorched 6,049 acres in Santa Clarita, west of Valencia. The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, though 5,460 structures are still threatened by the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

PHOTO: Firefighters light backfires as they try to contain the Thomas wildfire which continues to burn in Ojai, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters light backfires as they try to contain the Thomas wildfire which continues to burn in Ojai, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017.

About 2,000 residents were evacuated, though mandatory evacuation orders in the area have been lifted.

There were 652 personnel on scene battling the Rye fire Sunday morning.

Skirball fire

The Skirball fire has burned more than 400 acres of land so far, but its proximity to Los Angeles and responsibility for briefly shutting down the infamously crowded 405 Freeway has drawn national attention.

The fire had posed a threat to the acclaimed Getty Center, a museum in western Los Angeles. Officials managed to keep the flames from jumping the 405 freeway and heading east. The blaze was 75 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and firefighters have managed to keep it from breaching containment lines.

PHOTO: A helicopter drops water while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping Santa Ana Road near Ventura, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017.Noah Berger/AP
A helicopter drops water while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping Santa Ana Road near Ventura, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017.

Six structures were lost in the fire, with an additional 12 damaged. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the flames, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon because of the Skirball fire in the city's Bel-Air neighborhood.

Lilac fire

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday that flames from the Lilac fire were growing at a "dangerous rate" in San Diego County, where 4,100 acres of land have been burned thus far. At least 182 structures were destroyed and 23 were damaged by the blaze, while an additional 1,500 are threatened.

The fire was 60 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

AlertSanDiego, the region's cellphone emergency alert system, had sent out 23,000 evacuation messages as of Friday morning, including for new evacuations in Oceanside.

PHOTO: Santa Ana winds will gust up to 60 mph on Sunday morning.
Santa Ana winds will gust up to 60 mph on Sunday morning.

PHOTO: Humidity will be very low on the West Coast.
Humidity will be very low on the West Coast.

PHOTO: There is Red Flag Warning for Southern California.
There is Red Flag Warning for Southern California.

In this image from video released by Chase Bonefant @ChaseBonenfant, shows the Lilac fire burning in Bonsall, Calif. A brush fire driven by gusty winds that have plagued Southern California all week exploded rapidly Thursday north of San Diego, destrThe Associated Press
In this image from video released by Chase Bonefant @ChaseBonenfant, shows the Lilac fire burning in Bonsall, Calif. A brush fire driven by gusty winds that have plagued Southern California all week exploded rapidly Thursday north of San Diego, destr

Officials said the Lilac fire began late Thursday morning near Fallbrook and had grown to 50 acres in just an hour. Peak gusts had reached 66 mph Thursday afternoon in Pala, California, near the blaze, contributing to the rapid spread of flames.

Four civilians had suffered injuries and were taken to local hospitals, though authorities could not confirm the severity of the injuries.

Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Lilac fire, his office announced late last week.

PHOTO:
SLIDESHOW: Photos: Wildfires continue to rage across Southern California

Liberty fire

The Liberty fire, located in Riverside County near Murrieta, north of Temecula, has scorched 300 acres of land. It was 100 percent contained as of Sunday night, according to the Murrieta Fire and Rescue.

Seven structures were destroyed in the flames, but authorities have lifted all evacuation orders for the area.

One woman, Lauren Fuga, said she watched in shock as the Liberty fire burned down part of her home in Murrieta.

"I just, I'm at a loss for words," Fuga told KABC through tears. "It's so horrible. You never think that it's going to happen to you, and it can."

ABC News' Mark Osborne, Matthew Fuhrman, Michael Kreisel and Jonah Lustig contributed to this report.

News - As California firefighters get ahead of some wildfires, others still rage

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CComments

  • Raj Chris

    Whatever when there was an oil spill kids were asked to help with their brainy ideas 💡 There is no rain, people are running for Insurance claims but the if the fires are still burning,Now what matters how to put out the fires, firefighters are tired fighting there pouring water,( Do my little suggestion is, fire extinguishes only with Carbon-dioxide, this was created by a lady on YouTube with Vinegar and Baking Soda,mixing both together makes carbon dioxide,now it matters who will make loads of this to extinguish the huge fires) can anyone help the fire department through my tip. If they put in action maybe it would help but first try a little I didn't try this but my suggestion.

  • Rod Warrix

    Why doesn't anyone create a better way to control these fires. Nothing new in years to stop, slow, prevent major fires. Billions lost with same old same old techniques. So here's just an Idea. Fire retardant fence. A portable fence made of fire retardant tarps or material. They cut trees and make fire lines. So this could be something to think about. It would be a fire line that would be maybe easier than cutting trees and other work creating a "fire line" ATV's or such could be used to help transport and put up these barriers. Just Idea that it would block at least some sparks from traveling from blowing winds ground wise. Anything that would be helpful more than what is happening now. If say made and produce it could have electronic tracking that could tell where the worst of the fire is and be defended better in those spots. Just a thought. Any other people have idea's about what to create to help out let me know. Thanks.

  • MauiOhana808

    WHERE IS DON?????????????????????????????????????
    Aloha : O

  • RoyalT

    Hmmmm people using an event to confirm human made climate change. Makes sense.

  • Kyleen Easy

    Anyone know why they call them "wild fires?" Is there such a thing as "tame fires?" Seems silly.

  • D Kimbrel

    We should round up all the climate change deniers and shackle them up in the middle of the wildfires!!!

  • Larry b

    California Governor Jerry Brown says climate change and droughts could turn the fires into an ongoing problem for his state.
    WAIT, WHAT????
    Gov Jerry Brown,,,, Where the hell have you been the last 128 or so years??? "Wildfires aren't a new phenomenon, with massive blazes going back to the founding of the state, including maybe the worst ever in terms of acres burned, the Santiago Canyon Fire, taking place in 1889." Yup, that's "Climate Change" for ya!

  • Eteamer

    Time for more prescribed burns in more favorable weather. Brush must burn to live.

  • Eteamer

    This happens every year here. the only thing that grows on our mountains is brush. 5 years and it's 12 ft tall. Then it burns. It is what it's suppose to do. If it doesn't burn it dies. Why people keep building in it I can't understand. Maybe because it's a major economic booster for contractors and building supply.

  • Iam Manofnature

    Cal Fire Updates:

    Thomas Fire: Ventura County/Santa Barbara County
    173,000 acres burned
    537 structures destroyed
    15% containment

    Rye Fire: Los Angeles County
    6,059 acres burned
    6 structures destroyed
    90% containment

    Creek Fire: Los Angeles County
    15,619 acres burned
    123 structures destroyed
    90% containment

    Skirball Fire: City of Los Angeles
    422 acres burned
    6 structures destroyed
    75% containment

    Lilac Fire: San Diego County
    4,100 acres burned
    182 structures destroyed
    60% containment

    Liberty Fire: Riverside County
    300 acres burned
    no structures burned
    100% containment

    Little Mountain Fire: San Bernardino County
    260 acres burned
    no structures burned
    100% containment

    Meyers Fire: San Bernardino County
    230 acres burned
    no structures burned
    100% containment

  • YellowParrott

    A lot of folks won't "come back" from this catastrophe - will not!

  • Pangaea 47

    The state needs a an obvious constant public educational program (billboards, radio announcements, etc.) on things not to do in droughts or "dry" areas aimed for newcomers and people who think common sense rules do not apply to them, i.e burning trash, throwing out cigarette butts, campfires, pulling off a highway into brush with a hot catalytic converter, etc. This last set of fires have NOT been caused by lightning .

  • mm

    I wonder how these fires got started in the first place, with Sonoma/Napa and So Cal? I haven't seen in any of the articles how the fires were started?

  • 40865

    Way to go, Moonbeam. All the homeowners of California will be mentioning your name when it comes time to renew their homeowner's insurance policies.

    And what you said, Jerry, will do wonders to attract new businesses to California. I mean, if it were an overseas company looking to relocate to the USA, what you've said about California, Jerry, would definitely factor into my relocation plans.

    So, guv, your time in Sacramento is drawing to a close; so what're you going to do after you leave office? Will you go back to Japan and live in Zen monastery while you contemplate entering the 2020 presidential election and offering to all of America what you did to California?

  • TexasVulcan

    I'd like to express my thanks to all those who risk their own lives to try and contain these fires, protecting people and property the best they can. I do not think I could ever do that job. My only experience with wildfire was in Colorado some time ago. We were at a Scout camp and asked to help build a firebreak.

  • Major Bollocks

    Mmm, unfortunately a weak La Nina has been forecasted for this winter, which brings about below average precipitation for the areas in Southern California.

  • Stanley Kupritz

    The hydrological cycle has been blocked due to climate engineering. For the last seven years, the moisture has been aerosolized with nano-particulates with heavy condensation nuclei. The moisture adheres to the smaller particles. It doesn't conform big enough rain drops to fall, resulting in the moisture to migrate elsewhere. Look up U.S Code Title 50 Chapter 32 subsection 1538, paragraph B. If you question it, just consider that man has created enough nuclear arsenal to destroy the earth 12,000 times over.

    There are 7 Billion of us here... Do you not think those in power would cull the current population?

  • colloguy

    California ecology has always had fires as part of it's regular process.
    The type of plants, the dry climate of many of the areas where drought is not uncommon, the Santa Ana winds all contribute to the common process of burn in that location.
    NOAA's examination of the area over 26 years noted the rapid increase in urban development in these fire prone areas make the occurrence of home loss do to fires ever more likely.
    It is a very traumatic thing for people living there, even if it is not totally surprising.

  • JeanSC

    If. Gov. Brown wants to make California's communities "livable" one necessary element is buildings which can handle all the natural hazards in their setting. There are already seismic codes. The building codes should require non-flammable building envelopes. It's feasible - we're talking about regular wildfires, not the heat of a A-bomb.

  • ShawnLetwin

    Regardless of the who, what and why coming from those pointing fingers...real people are suffering...thoughts of care and comfort to each and everyone of you...All the best!

  • Teddy

    All this is just nature doing what it normally does.

  • Dajibaski

    There used to be a city called Los Angeles