Multiple wildfires have burned homes and forced evacuations across Southern California, greatly impacting the counties of Los Angeles and Ventura, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.
As of 11:30 a.m. EST on December 7, according to CalFire, more than 100 structures have been destroyed by the still active Thomas, Skirball, Creek, and Rye Fires, which have burned 116,080 acres in total.
Strong Santa Ana winds are worsening the wildfire threat, with wind gusts expected to reach 80 mph (equivalent to Category 1 hurricane winds) on Thursday, December 7, prompting the first purple wind warning — for extreme winds — ever issued for the area, which extends from San Diego to Santa Barbara and comprises a population of millions.
Thomas Fire is largest
The largest of these fires, the Thomas Fire, broke out the morning of Monday, December 4, and rapidly grew, expanding to about 31,000 acres in around 9 hours — a rate of about an acre per second. It had burned 96,000 acres — twice the size of Washington, D.C. — by Thursdaymorning, December 7.
With only 5% containment, it continues to burn through Ventura County toward Los Angeles, encroaching upon the upscale arts community of Ojai; 91 structures have been destroyed, 15 have been damaged, and 15,000 are threatened.
Skirball destroying multimillion dollar homes
Although significantly smaller, at 475 acres burned, the Skirball Fire is ripping through the high income neighborhood of Bel-Air. Several multimillion dollar homes have been destroyed, 11 structures have reportedly been damaged, Interstate 405 (a major north-south Southern California highway) was shut down, and the Getty Center and Getty Villa are closed.
Other structures and mansions in the area are threatened. All homes between Mullholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard were ordered to evacuate; 5% containment has been achieved. According to the Los Angeles fire chief, the footprint of the Skirball Fire is the same as the 1961 Bel-Air fire, which destroyed 500 homes.
Creek & Rye Fires
The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County, currently 10% contained, has burned 12,605 acres and destroyed 15 structures; another 15 structures have been damaged and 2,500 are threatened. Also in Los Angeles County, the Rye Fire has scorched 7,000 acres; it has destroyed one structure, threatens 5,420, and is the most contained of the active fires — at 15%.
200,000 evacuated; schools closed
In total, about 200,000 people have been evacuated across the affected areas in Southern California. Hundreds of schools have closed, and thousands of firefighters will continue to battle the blazes as strong winds exacerbate fire conditions through Thursday.
Continue for more wildfire photos:
Flames consume a home as a wildfire burns in Ojai, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A fire truck is parked outside a mansion as smoke from a wildfire rises behind the property Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A wildfire threatens homes as it burns along a hillside in La Conchita, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Flames from a wildfire work their way down a slope behind Leo Baeck Temple in Sepulveda Pass in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)