Calif. governor declares emergency as 50K-acre wildfire grows near LA

A firefighter works as a home burns during the 'Thomas Fire' which began overnight in Ventura, California on Tuesday. Photo by John Cetrino/EPA

By Sara Shayanian – UPI

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for a wildfire that’s charred more than 50,000 acres near Greater Los Angeles, killed one person and injured a firefighter — and shows little sign of slowing down.

The Thomas Fire has so far blazed through more than 50,000 acres in Ventura County, with the help of strong winds. Officials said the flames have destroyed nearly 200 homes.

The blaze continued to rage over Ventura late Tuesday evening, eventually reaching Solimar Beach near the Pacific Ocean. Brown’s emergency declaration covers Ventura County.

As of Tuesday evening, the fire was zero percent contained.

“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” Brown said. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered to leave. At least one person has died from the fire and one firefighter injured.

The strong winds are expected to remain constant through Thursday, peaking at night, before they begin to subside Friday.

The 50 mph winds not only helped spread the fire but they also grounded air tankers. Wind gusts blasting L.A.-area hilltops reached nearly 70 mph, officials said. More than 1,100 firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze.

In the past few years, rain has come before the Santa Ana winds. This year, however, none has fallen in three months — making firefighters’ work even more challenging.

Some say the destructive blaze is unlike anything they have seen before.

“We’ve lived in Ventura for 19 years,” resident Mike Patterson said. “We’ve had a couple fires, but nothing like this.”

Two firefighters were injured battling the Creek Fire, another blaze that has popped up in Los Angeles.

1 dead as 27,000 evacuate wildfires in Southern California