More than 12,000 homes are threatened by raging wildfires across Southern California, authorities said, as dramatic new video shows one of the latest fires overtaking the hills just north of the Los Angeles International Airport.
The largest of the blazes, the so-called Thomas Fire burning in and around the city of Ventura, has engulfed more than 65,000 acres since Monday night, while forcing more than 50,000 people to evacuate, fire officials there said.
The massive blaze, which authorities said is 0 percent contained, has been intensified by the fanning Santa Ana winds.
“We are still in the middle of an aggressive and active firefight on the ground,” Robert Welsbie, spokesman for the Ventura Fire Department, told Reuters. “If the winds pick up, we will face quite a challenge.”
The flames have moved quickly, spurred by the Santa Ana winds that can blow up to 70 mph. 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.”
Just after 5 a.m. local time on Wednesday, a new brush fire dubbed the Skirball Fire took over 50 acres in Bel-Air. Video of it spreading uphill along the 405 freeway shows the surrounding hills glowing from the flames that have since forced the highway to shut down, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Within roughly four hours, the fire had grown to 150 acres with 0 percent contained, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The nearby J. Paul Getty Museum, which houses European artwork and has closed amid the fires, announced on Twitter that its air filtration systems are working to protect its galleries from the surrounding smoke.
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 Tuesday 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 in the Ventura County fire as nearly 1,000…