California fires latest: Wildfire consumes area bigger than New York City

Evacuation orders triggered as fifth largest fire in modern history of state spreads

Lydia Smith
Monday 11 December 2017 11:32
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Firefighters light backfire while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping a road near Ventura, California
Firefighters light backfire while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping a road near Ventura, California

A huge wildfire in southern California has scorched an area larger than New York City, making it the fifth largest fire recorded in the state since 1932.

Authorities said the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties had burned 230,000 acres by Sunday evening, after growing by more than 50,000 acres in a single day.

Evacuation orders were triggered for areas of Carpinteria and Montecito as the fire moved closer to the city of Santa Barbara, around 100 miles west of Los Angeles.

Fuelled by the dry, rugged terrain and high winds, authorities said containment had dropped from 15 per cent to 10 per cent as the fire grew.

“Now is the time to gather your family members, pets, irreplaceable and necessary items including prescriptions and documents in case you are ordered to evacuate,” an alert from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said.

“If you are ordered to evacuate, leave immediately. If at any point you feel threatened, don’t wait for a mandatory order.”

Around 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and around 800 buildings have been destroyed by the wildfires across southern California.

Several firefighters have been injured tackling the blazes and a 70-year-old woman died in a car accident on Wednesday as she attempted to flee the fires in Ventura County.

Donald Trump has issued a state of emergency in California after a request by the California Governor, Jerry Brown.

Speaking on CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday, Mr Brown cited climate change as a significant contributing factor and criticised the President for removing the US from the Paris climate change agreement.

“These fires are unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like it. Scientists are telling us, this is the kind of stuff that's gonna happen,” he said.

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