Story highlights Six fires have scorched nearly 175,000 acresGov. Jerry Brown is due to visit Ventura County on Saturday
(CNN)A woman whose body was found at a crash site along an evacuation route in Southern California became the first confirmed fire-related casualty in a series of raging wildfires that could gain strength this weekend.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday was due to visit Ventura County, home to the largest of the six wildfires, the Thomas Fire. He’ll survey damage, meet with affected residents, consult with government officials and emergency responders, and brief reporters, his office said. His visit comes as strong Santa Ana winds this weekend could fuel the flames, the National Weather Service said. Wind gusts in the region will be 35 to 55 mph through Sunday, CNN meteorologist Rachel Aissen said.
Fires: 6Acres: 175,000Firefighters: 8,500Structures Destroyed: 1,010Structures Threatened: 25,000Civilians Evacuated: 90,000Largest Fire: Thomas Fire at 148,000 acres (over 231 square miles) pic.twitter.com/PvazmEXj2m
— CAL FIRE PIO (@CALFIRE_PIO) December 9, 2017 The forecast could challenge firefighters, who by Friday had made progress against the Thomas Fire, officials said. “With this break in the weather, we’ve made good progress, but that progress is limited to those areas that are safe to fly in,” said Todd Derum, the incident commander for Cal Fire.Read MoreTogether, the half-dozen fires have scorched nearly 175,000 acres this week, officials said.The White House has approved California’s request “for direct federal assistance to support the response” to the emergency, Brown’s office said Friday. Latest developments• Power outages: About 4,500 customers in northern San Diego are without power because of the Lilac Fire, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. More than 4,300 customers are still without power due to the Thomas Fire along the north coast, the Creek Fire in Sylmar and the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita, according to Southern California Edison.• Federal assistance: President Donald Trump declared an emergency in the state and ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. 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 26• Fatality confirmed: Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead in a car that authorities believe was involved in a crash Wednesday during evacuations near the Thomas Fire. The cause of death was “blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” the Ventura County medical examiner office said. • More injuries: The Lilac Fire has left three people with burn injuries and two firefighters hurt. One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation; the second continued working after a dislocated shoulder was popped back into place, officials said.7 images show why the Southern California wildfires are so dangerous‘It’s not as important as my life’The Creek Fire reduced Bob Brix’s house to ashes, leaving him without a place to call home and destroying a cherished family heirloom. He could see the remains of an old piano that his grandfather, a composer, used to play. Woman who survived wildfires turns home into donation site for victims“It’s not as important as my life. It’s the sentimental things I’m not going to be able to replace,” he told CNN affiliate KTLA.Brix was among thousands of residents who were allowed back into their neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Riverside counties on Friday. Losses were minimal for some, but many lost everything.Before the mandatory evacuations were lifted, Kathy Sanborn slept in her car waiting to hear about the damage to her home in Sylmar.”I don’t have clothes. I don’t have things that I need,” she told KTLA. “I have things that I probably wouldn’t have left in the house if I hadn’t been so panicked.”The firesThe six blazes vary in size. Thomas Fire: By Saturday morning, the largest of the fires had scorched at least 148,000 acres, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Donoghue, with about 15% of it contained. At least 4,000 people were fighting it, Donoghue said.The Thomas Fire started Monday in Ventura County and has since spread into Santa Barbara County. 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. Creek Fire: The second-largest blaze ignited a day later in neighboring Los Angeles County. It has burned 15,619 acres and is 80% contained. Rye Fire: It broke out Tuesday in Los Angeles County and has burned 6,049 acres. Firefighters are making progress, with 65% of the blaze contained.Lilac Fire: This fast-moving fire has consumed 4,100 acres since it ignited Thursday in San Diego County. It exploded from half an acre to 500 acres in 20 minutes, according to San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn. It’s 20% contained, and by Saturday had destroyed 105 structures and damaged 15 others, according to Cal Fire.Skirball Fire: It started Wednesday as a brush fire in Los Angeles County. It has burned 475 acres and is now 50% contained. Liberty Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has burned 300 acres since it ignited Thursday. It’s 90% contained.