New wildfires erupt in Southern California, force more rounds of evacuations

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 five 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 115,000 acres and five percent contained. It is threatening 15,000 structures with many already destroyed.

In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire and Rye Fire have burned 15,323 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 Sepulveda Pass section of Los Angeles. This fire is being called the Skirball Fire.

The first major fire in San Diego County broke around midday Thursday and is being called the Lilac Fire. The fire grew to over 2,000 acres in a matter of hours, leading to mandatory evacuations.

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.”

7:00 p.m. PST Thursday:

Winds are starting to decrease across Southern California but will remain breezy throughout the night.

Sill Hill in San Diego County recorded one of the highest wind gusts across the region with winds on Thursday morning being clocked at 88 mph.

6:00 p.m. PST Thursday:

California Governor Edmund Brown has declared a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Lilac Fire.

Ten school districts across San Diego County will be closed on Friday due to the fires, power outages and the continuation of strong winds.

A wildfire burns off of the hills next to CA-126 highway, just northwest of Fillmore, Calif, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Thousands of homes remain threatened by at least four major Southern California wildfires that have destroyed structures and sent residents fleeing. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers)

4:55 p.m….

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