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Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen

Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen

Authorities have closed a major freeway as flames from the largest and most destructive Southern California wildfire churn toward coastal and mountain communities northwest of Los Angeles.

The winds were expected to weaken on Friday and Saturday, with gusts of 25 to 35 miles per hour expected.

With the extreme wildfire threat looming over the region, the fire department dispatched four engines, three brush rigs, two helicopters and at least one water tender. Ventura County authorities said air pollution measures in the Ojai Valley were "off the charts".

More: California fires: Why is everything burning?

The out-of-control fires are blazing in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and almost 200,000 people have been affected by mandatory evacuation orders.

In the Sunland area of Los Angeles near the Creek Fire, Ken Villegas, a horse farm owner, said earlier in the week he saw the flames jump from across the street and enter his property, burning some of his foliage but no structures. Propane tanks under several houses exploded from the heat, sounding like bombs, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.

The Pentagon announced that the California National Guard is deploying 65 troops to assist in the fire-fighting efforts, which are being hampered by the seasonal Santa Ana winds.

"There will be no ability to fight fire in these kinds of winds", Pimlott said.




California Fire Department (Cal Fire) officials warned residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said red flag conditions are expected to remain in effect through the rest of the week, with gusting Santa Ana winds presenting a continuing danger of rapidly spreading blazes.

"Prepare now to ensure if evacuated you and your family are ready to GO!" Twenty-nine horses died at a ranch in Sylmar, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The exception to the evacuation order was the Bel Air Crest housing development, which was not threatened, Garcetti said.

The strongest winds were expected to occur near the Los Angeles and Ventura county line. The two fires were in addition to the largest blaze, the Thomas fire in Ventura that had destroyed more than 150 homes.

It has burned over the edges of the busiest highway of the country, known as Interstate 405 freeway that carry about 400,000 vehicles every day, where the lanes of northbound were closed for more of the day and travellers drove their vehicles through the flurry of ash along with the flames growing in the horizon.

The Skirball Fire in Los Angeles has forced hundreds of residents in the wooded hills near the Bel-Air neighborhood to evacuate and charred more than 475 acres (192 hectares).

Police knocked on doors and used loudspeakers to make sure everybody had left their homes.


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