Story highlightsSix wildfires have scorched nearly 160,000 acres over four counties in Southern CaliforniaDry air and strong winds are forecast for the region through Sunday
Carpinteria, California (CNN)Wildfires roared across Southern California for a fifth day on Friday, with new blazes prompting more evacuations as neighborhoods in San Diego County went up in flames.
Six large wildfires have scorched nearly 160,000 acres in the state this week, said officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. At least 5,700 firefighters are working to contain the towering walls of flames.The fires have forced 190,000 people out of their homes, some with nothing but their pets and a few mementos.Dry air and strong winds are forecast for the region through Sunday, which may fuel the fires, according to CNN meteorologist Rachel Aissen.Residents should be ready to evacuate even if they don’t live in areas immediately affected by flames, Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler said Thursday night.Read More”They need to prepare as if they will be impacted. Where are they gonna go? What are their escape routes? What is their communication to their families?” he said. The Lilac Fire has consumed more than 4,000 acres after erupting Thursday in San Diego County.Latest developments• New fire: The Lilac Fire in San Diego County started Thursday and grew to 4,100 acres in a few hours, leading to new evacuation orders. Evacuation centers have been set up in affected areas as the fire moves west toward Oceanside and Camp Pendleton. • More injuries: The Lilac Fire has left three people with burn injuries and two firefighters hurt. One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation, while the second one had a dislocated shoulder. The latter popped it back into place and continued working, Schuler said.• School closings: Officials have shut down schools spanning at least 16 districts. • Declarations: Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. The declarations help free state resources such as the National Guard to support response efforts. He’s also requested federal assistance to supplement state and local emergency response.• Fast winds: Wind gusts in the region will be 35 to 55 mph through Sunday, which can fan the fire, Aissen said. Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA burnt Mercedes is seen after the Skirball wildfire swept through the exclusive enclave of Bel-Air, California, on Thursday, December 7. Powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions are fueling wildfires in Southern California in what has been a devastating year for such natural disasters in the state.Hide Caption 1 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaPalm trees sway in a gust of wind as a firefighter carries a hose while battling a wildfire at Faria State Beach in Ventura on December 7. The windswept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed homes.Hide Caption 2 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFirefighter Patrick Larsen, of San Luis Obispo, battles a wildfire in Ojai on December 7.Hide Caption 3 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaResidents watch the Thomas Fire burn a hillside above La Conchita in the early morning hours of December 7.Hide Caption 4 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFires surround a hilltop mansion in the wealthy Bel-Air district of Los Angeles on Wednesday, December 6. Hide Caption 5 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern California”Daddy, the home is gone,” Amanda Lewis tells her family on December 6 after the Thomas Fire raged through her parents’ foothill neighborhood in Ventura, a coastal city just north of Los Angeles. The Thomas Fire, the largest of the Southern California blazes, started north of Santa Paula before spreading to Ventura.Hide Caption 6 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaSmoke rises across Southern California, as seen from the International Space Station on December 6.Hide Caption 7 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter makes a water drop on flames sweeping up a steep canyon wall after the Skirball Fire swept through Bel-Air on December 6.Hide Caption 8 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFlames from the Thomas Fire burn above a truck on Highway 101 north of Ventura.Hide Caption 9 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaJoyce George, right, comforts neighbor Dawn Reily, whose Ventura home was destroyed by fire, on December 6.Hide Caption 10 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFlames consume vehicles in Ventura on Tuesday, December 5, as wildfires spread in Southern California.Hide Caption 11 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaSmoke billows from a burning house in Los Angeles as the Creek Fire moves through the area December 5.Hide Caption 12 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaThe Thomas Fire spews smoke in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 13 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaThe Creek Fire burns on a hillside in the Shadow Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on December 5.Hide Caption 14 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA firefighter battles the blaze in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles on December 5.Hide Caption 15 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaAntoine Hanna comforts his wife, Tammy, after firefighters save their home in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 16 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFires leave an apartment complex leveled in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 17 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA firefighter sprays water at a burning house in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles on December 5.Hide Caption 18 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaPalm trees burn in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 19 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaVentura County firefighter Aaron Cohen rests between fighting fires in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 20 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA man prepares to evacuate from his Santa Paula house on December 5. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.Hide Caption 21 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaA man attempts to catch a horse that got loose during a wildfire in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles on December 5.Hide Caption 22 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaShrubs burn near a home in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 23 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaJames and Josie Ralstin carry belongings retrieved from their home in Ventura on December 5.Hide Caption 24 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaFirefighters battle to put out a blaze engulfing homes in Ventura on December 5. Hide Caption 25 of 26 Photos: Wildfires spread in Southern CaliforniaThe Thomas Fire burns along a hillside near Santa Paula on December 5.Hide Caption 26 of 26The firesThe six blazes vary in size and span four counties. Thomas Fire: The largest of the fires has scorched 132,000 acres after starting Monday in Ventura County. It’s 10% contained and has destroyed at least 73 residences. Creek Fire: The second-largest blaze ignited a day later in neighboring Los Angeles County. It has burned 15,323 acres and is 20% contained. Rye Fire: It broke out Tuesday in Los Angeles County and has burned 7,000 acres. Firefighters are making progress, with 25% of the blaze contained.Lilac Fire: This fast-moving fire consumed 4,100 acres in a few hours after erupting Thursday in San Diego County. It’s unclear how much of it is contained. Skirball Fire: It started Wednesday as a brush fire in Los Angeles County and is now 30% contained. Liberty Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has burned 300 acres since it ignited Thursday. It’s 5% contained. The firefightersIn addition to long hours battling blazes, firefighters are also grappling with the effects of smoke inhalation and embers irritating their eyes. “Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they’re taking a beating, too, but they’re cooperating with our orders,” said Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. See photos of the fierce wildfires in Southern CaliforniaJUST WATCHEDFighting the wildfires from the airReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Fighting the wildfires from the air 00:45Other agencies have stepped in to help the firefighters, with military and navy helicopters set to join the Lilac Fire effort Friday morning, Schuler said. The state National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing out of Oxnard also joined the fight, even though roughly 50 of the National Guardsmen involved had to be evacuated themselves, said spokeswoman Maj. Kimberly Holman. Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said.How bad is it?The Thomas Fire has burned an area that’s more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. It spread over 31,000 acres in nine hours, which is nearly an acre per second. At that rate, it would have consumed New York’s Central Park in about 15 minutes. 7 images show why the Southern California wildfires are so dangerous The blaze ranks as the 19th most destructive fire in the state’s records. It’s the biggest in Los Angeles since the Bel-Air fire in 1961 torched the homes of the rich and famous.Fire officials said Thursday brought a historic fire danger score and prompted them to upgrade their color-coding system to include purple for the first time. The scale used to measure the potency of the Santa Ana winds typically runs from gray, for little or no danger, to red, for high danger.