Crews battling 6 major fires from LA to San Diego; 3 people burned

A reporter form Chinese Central Television does a standup among fire debris in Tujunga, California on December 7, 2017. Conditions worsened in Southern California as four major wildfires burned with little containment, prompting 160,00 people to flee. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

By Ed Adamczyk – UPI

The six major wildfires burning in the Los Angeles area and San Diego have charred more than 140,000 acres of land and burned three people, authorities said Friday.

Thousands of firefighters are working to douse the flames in the face of challenging weather conditions, which includes dry vegetation and strong winds.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has destroyed 439 buildings and damaged 85 others, and the three burn victims were injured by San Diego County’s Lilac Fire.

The state fire agency ordered mandatory evacuations in Southern California and identified six isolated fires it says are still not under control.

At least 190,000 people in Ventura County have been evacuated, department spokesman Thomas Kruschke said. One person died from the fire this week, although county officials said the cause of her death was unclear.

In Los Angeles County, the Rye Fire has consumed 7,000 acres and is just 20 percent controlled. The Creek Fire is at 15,000 acres and the Skirball Fire at 475 acres. Both are also 20 percent contained.

The Thomas Fire has grown to 115,000 acres, but remains about 5 percent contained, officials said. The Lilac Fire in San Diego County is at 4,100 acres.

Nearly 6,000 firefighters and military personnel are dealing with long hours, exhaustion, smoke inhalation and burning airborne embers. The embers from dry, burning vegetation were fanned Thursday by sustained 50 mph winds, and allowed flames to leap across Highway 101 and other obstacles, causing new fires to break out. Fire crews are working to keep flames from jumping the 405 Freeway and approaching the Getty Museum.

The Liberty Fire in Riverside County is currently burning at 300 acres and is 5 percent controlled.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared states of emergency in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego Counties. On Thursday he requested federal assistance and supplies for shelters.

The Riverside County Fire Department said the Liberty Fire is moving at “moderate to rapid” speed. Area schools were closed, and at least 160,000 people in the county have evacuated. Thus far, 265 schools in Southern California have cancelled classes.

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