Strong Winds Whip Up Deadly Fires in California 27,000+ Evacuated
Fed by strong Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires on the edge of Los Angeles and in the foothills outside the city burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
A blaze broke out Monday in Ventura County and grew wildly to more than 70 sqm in a matter of hours fanned by winds clocked at well over 60 mph.
A smaller fire erupted on the northern edge of Los Angeles, threatening the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods, where residents rushed to get out. It was estimated at more than 6 sqm. About 2,500 homes were ordered evacuated.
At least 150 structures burned in the Ventura County fire, officials said. TV reports showed homes in flames, along with Vista del Mar Hospital, which treats patients with mental problems or substance abuse, including veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
More than 27,000 people were evacuated and 1 firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.
The fire erupted near Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. Many of the evacuated homes were in that city.
Driven by the wind, the fire moved toward Ventura, a city of 106,000 where more people were ordered to clear out.
Thomas Aquinas College, with about 350 students, was evacuated.
The flames were driven by Southern California’s dry and gusty Santa Ana winds, which have contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires. They blow Westward, from inland areas toward the coast, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.
Nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura County lost power, and schools in the district were closed.