Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 4:10 AM
By: WHIO Digital Staff
Los Angeles — Firefighters are trying to get into fire-ravaged areas in Southern California to try and get an accurate estimate on the number of homes lost to raging wildfires since Monday. At least four major fires shut down highways, closed schools and museums, shut down TV productions and cast a haze over the region, according to The Associated Press. At least 200,000 people are under evacuation orders.
High winds are expected to make battling the fires difficult for first responders through the rest of the week.
Weather forecasters in Los Angeles are predicting high winds over night Wednesday and into Thursday morning, with gusts as high as 70 miles per hour in some areas. Los Angeles officials are urging people near the Creek and Rye Fires to be ready to evacuate.
California's top firefighter says the state is in for the worst Santa Ana wind conditions it's ever seen.
Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says the wind wildfire threat to Southern California for Thursday is purple. That color has never been used before, and means there is extreme danger and that fires that erupt will burn uncontrollably.
Below that is red, meaning high danger of fires that burn rapidly and intensely and are difficult to control.
Pimlott says the winds could hit 80 mph (129 kph) and make it impossible to fight Southern California wildfires that have destroyed at least 200 homes and buildings.
A surge from the biggest of the wildfires burning in Southern California has forced several thousand more people to evacuate in a community of artists and resorts, according to the AP.
Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Eric Buschow says flames have been creeping closer and slowly surrounding the town of Ojai (OH'hi), and on Tuesday night increasing winds brought them close enough to expand evacuation orders there.
Flames, now about 4 miles away, were visible from the city's downtown for the first time on Tuesday night, and ash was raining down.