A wildfire that started in Southern California’s Ventura County on Monday night has grown to 50,000 acres, destroying dozens of homes and buildings, authorities said Tuesday.
More than 27,000 people have been forced to evacuate from the path of the encroaching Thomas fire, with more evacuations possible. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.
“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”
Fire officials have described the blaze as “out of control” and warned that conditions could worsen throughout the week.
No fatalities have been reported, but one firefighter was injured as nearly 1,000 people fought to control the blaze. At least 150 buildings have been damaged by the fire, including an apartment complex and a psychiatric hospital, the Los Angeles Times reported. More than 250,000 homes were also without power, and all schools in the Ventura Unified School District were closed.
“The burn area is pretty much all the mountains between Ventura and Ojai and extending east to Santa Paula,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Donoghue told the Times. “It’s a challenge because of the enormity of it, and it’s a challenge because it’s pretty rugged terrain.”
The flames have moved quickly, spurred by powerful winds, called Santa Anas, that can blow up to 70 miles per hour. The National Weather Service said the Los Angeles region was under an extreme fire danger warning through Friday and said it expected the winds to continue throughout the week in the “strongest and longest Santa Ana event so far this season.”
Several other fires have broken out in Southern California in recent days, including the Creek fire in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, which has burned more than 4,000 acres.