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Southern California: Fire-crews helpless against wind-powered infernos

Over 500 houses burned down so far, thousands leave homes


Published: December 09, 2017 20:16:25 | Updated: December 11, 2017 10:08:16


Fire crews in Southern California were mostly powerless to stop infernos once the fires met with powerful wind.

The infernos in the state destroyed more than 500 buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced out thousands.

The fires have burned over 260 square miles (673 square kilometres) since Monday, reports AP.

“The crews were trying to stay out ahead of this as quickly as they could,” said Capt. Kendal Bortisser of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

“As we know, when a tornado hits the Midwest, there’s no stopping it. When a hurricane hits the East Coast, there’s no stopping it. When Santa Ana winds come in, there’s no stopping them.”

Fire-fighters gained ground Friday, and some of the earliest evacuees who fled from flames Monday were being allowed to return home.

Yet new fires were popping up, and danger persisted.

Vegetation is bone dry, there’s been hardly any rainfall and winds were expected to gusts up to 40 mph (64 kph) Saturday and up to 50 mph (80 kph) Sunday in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas, the National Weather Service said.

Fires have taken people by surprise over a large swath of Southern California since the biggest fire broke out Monday evening in Ventura County, where the only death attributed to the fires, so far, involved a 70-year-old woman who was found dead in a wrecked car on a designated evacuation route in the small city of Santa Paula.

Three people were burned trying to escape a fast-moving fire that started Thursday 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of San Diego that overran a mobile home retirement community and a race horse training facility.

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