Kristin Lam, USA TODAY Published 3: 01 am ET Oct. 31, 2019 Updated 6: 25 am ET Oct. 31, 2019
With a week of wild Santa Ana winds, California is under siege by several fires such as the Kincade, Getty, Easy and Tick Fires. Harrison Hill and Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES – While subsiding winds brought relief to crews at the Kincade Fire near San Francisco, firefighters battlinga pair of Southern California wildfiresare set to again battle critical conditions on Thursday.
Hurricane-strength winds could fan theEasy Fire that is threatening 7, 000 Homesin Ventura County, the National Weather Service warned, and spawn new blazes across the rain-deprived region.
At least 10 fires burned across the state late Wednesday, according to Cal Fire, collectively consuming more than 144 square miles. At least 36, 000 Californians were undermandatory evacuation orders, down from 200, 000 last week thanks to firefighting efforts that have allowed many residents to return home.
With no dangerous winds in the forecast for Northern California, no power shutoffs were planned for next week, said Pacific Gas & Electric President and CEO Bill Johnson. PG&E crews were working to restore power for about 53, 000 customers late Wednesday night, ending itsfourth preventative outagethis month.
But as Santa Ana winds continue to threaten the southern part of the state, Southern California Edison warned that more than 318, 000 customers could lose power in an effort to prevent itsequipment from sparking wildfires. As of 10 PM Wednesday, SCE reported 82, 000 customers were already without power.
The utility acknowledged the Easy Fire broke out near its equipment, although the cause of the blaze that especially challenged firefighters Wednesday is under investigation.
Easy Fire: Goats help save Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
In Simi Valley, a Ventura County city of 125, 000 just 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, theEasy Fire consumed about 2.6 square milesafter igniting early Wednesday. Crews had no containment of the fire on Wednesday night, while mandatory evacuation orders remained in place for 30, 000 people.
The fire came dangerously close to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, spokeswoman Melissa Giller said, but was saved by a shift in the winds – andthe work of goatsbrought in every year to create a fire break by chewing through vegetation surrounding the complex.
The Easy Fire is another wildfire to ignite in California, joining the Getty Fire in Los Angeles and the Kincade Fire north of San Francisco. USA TODAY
About 1, 000 firefighters also battled the blaze, which destroyed two buildings.
“Extreme” red flag warningsin the area were expected to persist into Thursday night, bringing the potential for “rapid fire spread” and “extreme fire behavior,” according to the National Weather Service.
Kincade Fire: Containment at 45%
In Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, subsiding winds Wednesday aidedfirefighters battling the wine country blazetha t sparked a week ago. Officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders, allowing all but about 6, 000 people to return home. The 120 – square-milewildfire had forced 200, 000 people to flee after“Diablo” windsconspired with dry conditions.
Fire science:Infamous ‘Diablo’ winds are fueling fierce northern California wildfires
The Kincade Fire had destroyed more than 260 buildings, including a 150 – year-old winery, and was45% containedby Wednesday night. Emergency officials warned about 60, 000 people to be prepared to evacuate if conditions change, but Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox said crews are optimistic.
“We can’t let our guard down … but the confidence level has gone way up in the past 24 hours, “Cox said.
Getty Fire: ‘Errant’ tree branch is to blame for Los Angeles County blaze
In Los Angeles County, fire officials also lifted some evacuation orders for theGetty Fire, which had forced residents of more than 7, 000 homes to flee earlier in the week. Containment was at 27% Wednesday evening.
The 1.2-square-mile wildfire near the Getty Museum started accidentally, saidLos Angeles Fire Departmentspokeswoman Margaret Stewart, when high winds blew a tree branch onto nearby power lines.
“This errant tree branch caused the sparking and arcing of the power lines, igniting nearby brush,” Stewart said.
Contributing: John Bacon and Jorge Ortiz, USA TODAY
Why not just bury them ?:California power lines spark wildfires and prompt blackouts
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