(CNN)Hurricane-force winds are expected to continue in Southern California on Thursday, fanning the flames of fires throughout the region.
Gusts of the Santa Ana winds reached up to 80 mph Wednesday, prompting the first-ever extreme red flag warning from the National Weather Service. The winds aren’t expected to calm until the weekend, and 19 million people remain under red flag warnings in the region Thursday.The winds are no help to Los Angeles area firefighters. At least 20 different wildfires broke out in Southern California Wednesday, Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said. There are more than 10 fires currently burning in CaliforniaThe Getty Fire in Los Angeles is threatening more than 7,000 homes, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. And about 40 miles northwest of the city, the Easy Fire broke out in Simi Valley Wednesday. Wind gusts of hurricane force — at least 74 mph — were reported at a weather station about seven miles north of Simi Valley.The Easy Fire quickly consumed more than 1,400 acres in Ventura County and 6,500 homes were threatened, officials said. The fire forced school closures and evacuations of about 26,000 people in Simi Valley, Sheriff Bill Ayub told reporters. Those evacuations included the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the former president and his wife, Nancy, are buried.Read MoreA few staff stayed behind to protect what they can.Heavy winds “are a major concern to us,” Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath told CNN affiliate KABC.Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the state had secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fight the Easy Fire. The grant allows affected local and state and agencies to apply for a 75% reimbursement of eligible fire suppression costs.JUST WATCHEDCalifornia fires force thousands to evacuate across the stateReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
California fires force thousands to evacuate across the state 01:54Power companies may be responsible for firesThe Simi Valley wildfire started near a Southern California Edison sub-transmission line, the power company said, adding that it has filed a report with the state Public Utilities Commission.”SCE is conducting a review into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and will cooperate with all investigations into the origin and cause of the fire,” the company said in a statement.The company said Tuesday that its equipment likely also contributed to the Woolsey Fire in November of last year. The fire became one of the most destructive in the state, according to Cal Fire, killing three people and destroying more than 1,600 structures.In Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) filed three reports with the California Public Utility Commission Wednesday indicating that their equipment may be involved in the start of three fires, according to officials. Bill Johnson, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation, told media the company has contacted the state about reports of videos possibly showing sparking powerlines at the Bethel Island and Oakley fires. A third report was then filed linking its equipment to a fire in Milpitas, California.”Troublemen observed wire down. They observed two houses, two cars, and a shed damaged by the fire. An on-site Milpitas Fire Department Investigator informed the troubleman that he was looking at the downed wire as a potential ignition source and collected a portion of the conductor into evidence,” PG&E said in a statement to CNN.PG&E has been under scrutiny in recent years for the role its equipment played in several devastating fires across the state, including last year’s deadly Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. Over the last weeks, the utility has been enacting preventative shutoffs all over northern and central California.Laura Horvitz (R) and Robyn Phipps help rescue goats from a ranch near the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.’We’re ready to go and say goodbye to our home’Brigitte Kouba Neves, a Los Angeles native, says her heart stopped when her neighbor knocked on her door early Monday and told her they were in the evacuation zone.”I can’t explain the feeling of packing a bag with the items I want to save from a fire,” she said in an Instagram post describing how she and her husband chose daily essentials and their wedding album.Neves lives in a voluntary evacuation zone. So far, she’s been safe, but that could change at any moment.”Currently, we have our suitcases by the door, the car is packed, and we’re ready to go and say goodbye to our home if they say we must,” she wrote. But she told CNN what’s it’s like to live under constant threat and worry.”I have 3-year-old twins with sensitive lungs, so school has been canceled a lot, they’ve had to wear masks, and we’ve discussed the fact that there are fires far away … and it changes air quality,” she said. “We’ve let them role play with their firefighter outfits and trucks.” Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters mop up a brushfire, named the Castlewood Fire, in Fullerton, California, on Wednesday, October 30.Hide Caption 1 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaAn Air Force One from Reagan’s presidency sits on display at the Reagan Library as the Easy Fire burns in the Simi Valley hills on October 30.Hide Caption 2 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters brace themselves for incoming fire retardant as they battle the Easy Fire in Simi Valley.Hide Caption 3 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFabio Losurdo comforts his horse, Smarty, at a ranch in Simi Valley on October 30.Hide Caption 4 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFlames approach the backyards of mobile homes in Santiago Estates at Pedley in Jurupa Valley, California, on October 30.Hide Caption 5 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaLaura Horvitz, right, and Robyn Phipps help rescue goats from a ranch near the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on October 30.Hide Caption 6 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaHealth care workers evacuate residents from the Riverside Heights Healthcare Center in Jurupa Valley on October 30.Hide Caption 7 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaInmate firefighters battle the Kincade Fire near Healdsburg, California, on Tuesday, October 29.Hide Caption 8 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA home between Healdsburg and Windsor is surrounded by charred ground on October 29. Hide Caption 9 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFrom left, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tour a burned home in Brentwood, California, on October 29. Hide Caption 10 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters work near the Getty Center in Los Angeles on Monday, October 28.Hide Caption 11 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaThousands of Los Angeles residents have been forced to evacuate their homes because of the Getty Fire.Hide Caption 12 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaLos Angeles County firefighter Collin Bashara rests near his truck on October 28.Hide Caption 13 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaSmoke from the Kincade Fire hangs over Healdsburg as farm animals graze in a pasture on October 28.Hide Caption 14 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA man walks past a burning home in Los Angeles on October 28.Hide Caption 15 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFire crews walk along a blackened ridge as they battle the Getty Fire in Los Angeles.Hide Caption 16 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters battling the Kincade Fire spray water at a home in Windsor on Sunday, October 27.Hide Caption 17 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters burn fuel around a home in Windsor in an effort to save it from the Kincade Fire.Hide Caption 18 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaDr. Emily Putt, a veterinarian who helps rescue horses from fire zones, comforts a horse as the Kincade Fire burns in Healdsburg on October 27.Hide Caption 19 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighter passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg on October 27.Hide Caption 20 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaVines smolder in a cloud of smoke in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 21 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFlames from the Kincade Fire consume a home in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 22 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA team of firefighters put out a smoldering vine in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 23 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaThe Soda Rock Winery burns in the Kincade Fire.Hide Caption 24 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters from the Dry Creek Rancheria remove an American flag in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 25 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighter watches over a structure as the Kincade Fire threatens Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 26 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighter sets a back fire along a hillside in Healdsburg on Saturday, October 26.Hide Caption 27 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA line of fire snakes along a hillside as firefighters light backfires to slow the spread of the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, California, on October 26.Hide Caption 28 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaSodhi Singh closes up his Chevron station shortly after losing power in Healdsburg on October 26. In an attempt to avoid any more catastrophic wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric began shutting down the power to about 940,000 customers, citing a historic wind event in northern and central parts of the state.Hide Caption 29 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA back fire set by firefighters burns along a hillside in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 30 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaSandy Beddow evacuates Healdsburg with her dog.Hide Caption 31 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters set a back fire along a hillside in Healdsburg.Hide Caption 32 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaFirefighters hose down a burning house in Agua Dulce, California, on Friday, October 25. It was affected by the Tick Fire, which broke out near Santa Clarita.Hide Caption 33 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaOrange County firefighters put out remaining hot spots from a brush fire in San Clemente, California, on October 25.Hide Caption 34 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighting aircraft intervenes over Sonoma County, California, where the Kincade Fire was burning on October 25.Hide Caption 35 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighter sprays water on a burning home in Sonoma County on Thursday, October 24. Hide Caption 36 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA Los Angeles County firefighter monitors the area as the Tick Fire burns near homes in Canyon Country on October 24.Hide Caption 37 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaThe Kincade Fire burns in the Jimtown community of Sonoma County on October 24.Hide Caption 38 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA firefighter works the scene of a burned-out home in Santa Clarita on October 24.Hide Caption 39 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaBrandon Mani covers his face from the smoke as he walks along Highway 14 in Santa Clarita.Hide Caption 40 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA helicopter passes a smoke plume on October 24. Hide Caption 41 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA structure continues to burn after the Kincade Fire moved through Geyserville on October 24.Hide Caption 42 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaGeyserville, about 80 miles north of San Francisco, is among the communities under mandatory evacuation order. Hide Caption 43 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaTwo firefighters discuss a plan while battling the wildfire in Geyserville.Hide Caption 44 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaThe sun rises above a smoke-filled valley in Geyserville on October 24.Hide Caption 45 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaA fire whirl whips across dry brush as the Kincade Fire spreads through Sonoma County on October 24.Hide Caption 46 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaTrees burn as the fire engulfs a hillside in Geyserville.Hide Caption 47 of 48 Photos: Wildfires scorch CaliforniaEmbers fly across a roadway in Jimtown on October 24.Hide Caption 48 of 48California’s biggest fire is far from containedNorth of the San Francisco Bay, the week-old Kincade Fire — the state’s largest active wildfire — has destroyed nearly 77,000 acres across Sonoma County and more than 260 structures, including more than 130 single-family homes, officials said. It was only 45% contained as of Wednesday evening. At the Sonoma County Airport, several airlines have canceled all flights for Thursday. The Kincade Fire started October 23, but the cause is still under investigation.The good news: Forecasters say winds will weaken through Thursday, and more residents can go home.About 2,400 people from the 186,000 under evacuation orders had returned to their homes as of Tuesday night, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said.”Many of these people are still returning to homes that are without power because of the PG&E power shutoff,” he said. “So we want people to be vigilant, be aware communication may not be great.”