4th major wildfire erupts in Southern California, threatens Los Angeles community of Bel Air

Several large wildfires have forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Southern California, and persistent Santa Ana winds will challenge firefighters looking to contain the blazes.

The largest of four active fires, the Thomas Fire, began on Monday near the town of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California. It exploded in size during the overnight hours on Tuesday and is currently 65,000 acres and zero percent contained. It is threatening 12,000 structures with many already destroyed.

In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire and Rye Fire have burned 11,300 acres and 7,000 acres respectively. Both fires triggered evacuation orders and road closures, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

On Wednesday morning, a fourth wildfire erupted, this time near the 405 Freeway in the Speulvada Pass section of Los Angeles. This fire is being called the Skirball Fire.

Santa Ana winds will continue to whip through Southern California through the rest of this week, threatening to spread these blazes and any new fires that ignite rapidly.

More lives and homes will be threatened, and residents living in the Santa Ana wind-prone areas should prepare for the possibility of needing to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

“The winds will make it difficult to get air support to these wildfires,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. “Helicopters may be able to aid firefighters, but the winds can be more problematic for larger aircraft.”

10:27 a.m. PST Wednesday:

KABC7 reports that the Skirball Fire has destroyed at least four homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. It has burned 150 acres and is zero percent contained.

Los Angeles firefighters battle to contain flames to a burning home and prevent the fire’s spread to adjoining properties in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

8:35 a.m. PST Wednesday:

The Federal Emergency Management Assistance Agency has approved fire management assistance grants for the Thomas Fire, Creek Fire and Rye Fire. These grants will help cover the costs of emergency work in California.

President Donald Trump thanked the first responders on Twitter for their “incredible work.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of California’s wildfires. I encourage everyone to heed the advice and orders of local and state officials,” Trump tweeted.

In a recent update, Cal Fire reports that the Rye Fire burning in the Santa Clarita area has now grown to 7,000 acres and…

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