A wildfire burning out of control near Los Angeles expanded rapidly overnight and jumped a highway early Friday morning, prompting evacuation orders for roughly 40, 000 people as strong , dry winds fueled numerous blazes across the state.
The Tick Fire raged through Santa Clarita and quickly grew to 4, 300 acres, igniting several homes, officials said. Nearly 600 firefighters were dispatched to battle the blaze,backedby four airplane tankers and six helicopters, as it raced toward densely packed communities.
Flames rolled out of the valley foothills into neighborhoods, sending residents into a panic as only 5 percent of the fire was contained by early Friday morning. Several fire lanes tore through residential areas,the Los Angeles Times reported, and some people wielded garden hoses in a futile effort to protect their homes.
“The fires have gotten close, but never like this,” Marcia Armijo, 60, and a resident of two decades, told the Times.
Like others in the area, she was forced to evacuate, taking along her dog Hope and cat Maxwell as the threat grew to Canyon Country, a community by the Santa Clarita River.
“I have no idea if my house is burning down right now, ”she said.
Other residents in the area had confronted the devastation. Alejandra Corrales fled with her three children, but did not have enough time to gather her mother’s ashes. She feared her rescue sheep were killed in the blaze, but some animals managed to survive.
“I’m just a little overwhelmed and I’m literally seeing sticks and fire of what used to be our home, ”shetoldthe local CBS affiliate.
The Southern California fires have been fed by strong downsloping offshore winds known regionally as Santa Ana winds, gusting up to 65 mph through Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Friday, officialssaid, creating the potential for
The heat and bone dry humidity will cause vegetation to dry out, enabling it to burn if any ignition sources ignite a fires. “The fuels and vegetation are critically dry,” the National Weather Service in Los Angeles said.
Overall, the worst fire weather shift today from Northern California to southern parts of the state. Though winds are still strong – up to 35 mph in the Sacramento Valley and topping 40 – 45 mph in the foothills and mountains – they are forecast to slacken this afternoon.
“Extremely critical” fire weather remains in the forecast for southern portions of the Golden State, with pockets of elevated and critical conditions present in and around the Los Angeles metro area.
In Los Angeles, a red flag warning is up through Friday evening along with a heat advisory, highlighting conditions that are “favorable for extreme fire behavior and rapid growth.” Temperatures will skyrocket into the mid to upper 90 s in many areas, with relative humidities as low as 2 to 5 percent.
Meanwhile, sustained northeasterly winds of 25 to 40 mph, gusting up to 65 mph in the foothills and mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties would support fires spreading at rapid pace, if any get started.
“The expected weather will create an environment ripe for large and dangerous fire growth, ”the National Weather Service in Los Angeles said in its morning forecast discussion. “We urge everyone to be extremely cautious.”
The Tick Fire ignited about 20 miles northeast of the site of another major wildfire, in Sylmar. That blaze, known as the Saddleridge Fire, has burned nearly 9, 000 acres since Oct. 10, though it is mostly contained now,accordingto Cal Fire. One person died in the Saddleridge Fire, and another eight were injured; the blaze also left dozens of buildings damaged or destroyed.
The Kincade Fire has consumednearly 22, 000 Acres. On Thursday, Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility,told state regulatorsthat a jumper on one of its transmission towers broke close to where officials say the Kincade Fire started.
The air in the vicinity of the Kincaid Fire is slightly less dry and a bit cooler, which could offer a greater opportunity for firefighters to make gains on the blaze before more volatile conditions return this weekend.
The ongoing wildfires come on the heels of the devastating 2017 and 2018 California fire seasons, which featured the largest, most destructive, and deadliest blazes on in state history.
It’s part of a clear pattern toward larger, more frequent and destructive blazes, as well as a longer-lasting fire season. And, according to CalFire, “climate change is considered a key driver of this trend.”
Population growth and the increase in homes and businesses located near lands that typically burn are also escalating the risk of and damage from wildfires in the Golden State.
Reis Thebault and Kim Bellware contributed to this report.