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California wildfires scorch area bigger than New York City and Boston

Thomas fire, the most significant of six fires burning in southern California, has destroyed almost 800 builds and remains only 15% contained

California‘s biggest wildfire continues to burn out of control, triggering fresh evacuations as firefighters duel a total of six fires that collectively have scorched an area bigger than New York City and Boston combined.

The week-old Thomas fire in Ventura County had embraced 230,500 acres by Monday, destroying almost 800 buildings and threatening Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and other coastal enclaves north of Los Angeles. It is the fifth-biggest wildfire in California’s modern history- and only 15% contained.

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Strong desert breezes known as Santa Anas which have fanned the flames were expected to ease overnight but steep valleys and parched vegetation were acting as tinder. No rainfall is forecast for the next 10 days.

” The gusts are kind of squirrely right now ,” county fire spokesman Mike Eliason told the Associated Press.” Some places the smoke is running straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in .”

More than 200,000 people have fled their homes since the wildfires flared last week, devastating swathes of scenery. Despite apocalyptic-looking scenes simply one person is confirmed to have died- Virginia Pesola, 70, whose car crashed as she attempted to evacuate.

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Why are California’s wildfires so out of control?- video explainer

The gusts and low humidity inspired the National Weather Service to widen a red flag cautioning for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties to Monday evening.

Firefighters stimulated steady advancement against fires in Los Angeles county, including one in the plush community of Bel-Air which singed but did not seriously injury a winery owned by Rupert Murdoch. Hundreds of schools which shut last week because of ash and smoking across LA have re-opened.

Further south firefighters likewise gained control over a flame in San Diego county which scorched 4,100 acres and destroyed more than 100 structures along highway 76.

Last week it swept through the San Luis Rey Downs training center, killing dozens of thoroughbred race horses and destroyed more than 100 homes- most of them in a retirement community. Three people were hurt trying to flee.

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A home is seen as the growing Thomas fire improvements toward Santa Barbara County. Strong desert gales have fanned the flames. Photo: David McNew/ Getty Images

The Thomas fire, named after the Thomas Aquinas College near where it broke out, is by far the biggest and has forced 88,000 people to flee. It caused electricity outages as it ripped through foothills around Santa Barbara, a picturesque township popular with tourists and wine-lovers. Even residents not under evacuation orders took the chance to leave, dreading another shutdown of a key coastal highway.

Officials handed out masks to those who remained behind in Montecito, an exclusive community within Santa Barbara home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore.

Actor Rob Lowe wore a mask as he live-streamed his family evacuating Sunday from their smoke-shrouded home.

” Praying for the people in my area ,” he said to his Instagram followers.” Hope everybody’s getting out safe like we are, and thanks for the prayers and thoughts. And good luck to the firefighters, we need you !”

Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted that neighbours were helping each other and their animals get to security, adding:” I’m sending lots of love and gratitude to the fire department and sheriffs. Thank you all .”

Ellen DeGeneres (@ TheEllenShow)

Everyone in the Montecito area is checking up on one another and helping to get people and animals to security. I’m proud to be a part of this community. I’m sending lots of love and gratitude to the fire department and sheriffs. Thank you all. #ThomasFire

December 10, 2017

Plumes of smoking have widened more than 1,000 miles into the Pacific.

” We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas ,” California’s governor, Jerry Brown, said over the weekend during a visit to Ventura. Traditionally the state’s burn season ends in November but climate change may build the ferocity of this month’s fires a repetition phenomenon, said Brown, a Democrat.

” This is the new normal ,” he said.

High fire risk is expected to last into January.

CAL FIRE (@ CAL_FIRE)

Latest CA Wildfire Stats:
Fires: 5
Acres: 200,000
Structures: 834
Firefighters: 9,000
Evacuations: 98,000
Homes threatened: 25,000

Video: @EliasonMike pic.twitter.com/ atREHv3 4PM

December 10, 2017

Heavy rains last wintertime and springtime terminated a record-busting drought but there has been meagre rainfall in the past six months, leaving chaparral and woodland extremely dry.

Washington state, which borders Canada, has furthermore recorded unusual hot. A weather balloon on Monday recorded its warmest temp for this time of year of 61 F, the National Weather Service in Seattle tweeted.” Air mass as dry as Arizona .”

A family that lost its home to the Creek Fire north of Los Angeles told KCAL9 News it was grateful to be alive.” For me, it was like my 15 years of living here was flashing by- of recollections, you are familiar with, the gatherings, all that ,” said Javier Hernandez.” And then at the same period, we were like,’ OK, my family’s OK. If it’s gonna ignite, it’s gonna ignite .'”

The Associated Press contributed reporting .

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ world/ 2017/ dec/ 11/ southern-california-wildfires-blaze