California fires : Trump declares state of emergency as flames stretch from San Diego to Ventura County - as it happened

The fires have consumed more than 100,000 acres

Jeremy B. White
Los Angeles
,Chris Stevenson
Friday 08 December 2017 16:58
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President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in California as firefighters battle several intense wind-driven wildfires across southern areas of the state.

Mr Trump has asked for federal assistance to be provided to the area to help with the "suffering" of the local population. The fires have destroyed at least 500 structures and chased tens of thousands of people from their homes over the past five days.

More than 5,700 firefighters from across California and the region are working to stop the spread of six large wildfires and other smaller blazes that have erupted since Monday, from Los Angeles up the Pacific coast to Santa Barbara County, and stoked by fierce westward Santa Ana winds.

Firefighters and helicopters sprayed and dumped water and fire retardant on the inferno, against a hellish backdrop of flaming mountains and walls of smoke as the blaze hopscotched over highways and railroad tracks and torched rows of houses.

Follow the latest fire updates with the map and liveblog below (Can't see the live updates? Click here)

The raging fires have forced the evacuation of about 190,000 people and threatened 23,000 homes as of late on Thursday, the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection said in a post on Twitter.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the country's second largest with more than 640,000 students, closed more than a quarter of its nearly 1,100 schools for a second day on Friday. The University of California Santa Barbara cancelled classes as well.

The Thomas Fire northwest of Los Angeles has grown to 115,000 acres (46,540 hectares) from 96,000 acres (38,850 hectares) and destroyed 439 structures, officials said. More than 2,600 firefighters from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Nevada were battling the blaze, which was just 5 percent contained.

North of San Diego, another blaze called the Lilac Fire swelled from 10 acres to 4,100 acres (1,659 hectares) in just a few hours on Thursday, CAL FIRE said, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for San Diego County.

The other fires, which broke out on Monday and Tuesday, have reached into the wealthy enclave of Bel-Air on the west side of Los Angeles. Some major highways in the densely populated area were intermittently closed.

In the seaside enclave of Faria Beach, caught between burning mountains and the Pacific Ocean northwest of Ventura, fires spread down the smoking hills. Flames jumped the heavily used US 101 highway and headed toward clusters of beach houses. Firefighters lined up along a railroad track, the last barrier from the flames.

Heavy smoke made breathing hazardous in some areas, and residents were urged to stay indoors. Ventura County authorities said air pollution measures in the Ojai Valley were “off the charts.”

Reuters

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