Photos and videos show wildfire devastation across Southern California
At least three fires are devastating Southern California, devouring Ventura and Santa Ana counties with flames, and stifling surrounding counties, including Los Angeles, with smoke.
The fires began on Monday night and continued to spread throughout the day on Tuesday. So far, the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita has burned 1,000 acres, per ABC News. Santa Ana’s Creek Fire has destroyed 11,000 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times. And the Thomas Fire, which has been burning the longest, has torn through a massive 50,000 acres in Ventura County.
All three fires and the massive amounts of smoke they’re producing are visible from space.
The fires have spread so quickly and grown so large thanks to the California weather phenomenon known as the Santa Ana winds. The east-to-west blowing winds come from the Pacific and tap into warm and dry conditions inland. The winds push against the air coming from the LA basin’s eastern mountains, which compresses the wind and heat between the ocean and the mountains, further drying out vegetation that has dried out over the summer.
The phenomenon makes for dangerous fire conditions, which is now affecting residents across Southern California, from Ventura County to the north, and Santa Clarita and Santa Ana to the east.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has ordered the evacuation of the 20.5 square miles including and surrounding the Creek Fire, which jumped the 210 Freeway and is threatening Santa Ana’s Sylmar and Lake View Terrace neighborhoods. The Rye Fire in Santa Clarita prompted the shutdown of Highway 5. Reuters reports that hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the Thomas Fire.
Across Southern California, people are packing up their homes, and rescuing and sequestering animals, to salvage what they can from the blaze. Some residents were even seen fighting the fire with water hoses. LA County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby told the New York Times that “we are in an extreme firefight right now, trying to protect lives and save property.”
Andrew Freedman contributed to this story.