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California fire now larger than NY

California fire now larger than NY

Brutal winds that fuelled southern California's firestorm finally began to ease on Saturday (Dec 9), giving residents and firefighters hope for respite as the destructive toll of multiple blazes came into focus.

A spate of California wildfires have destroyed an area larger than New York City and Boston - combined.

With gusts of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), the relentless seasonal Santa Ana winds had continued to stoke the fire Friday, spitting embers and creating "extreme fire danger". Fillmore and areas to the west remained under evacuation orders. Vegetation is bone dry, there's been hardly any rainfall and winds were expected to gusts up to 40 miles per hour (64 kph) Saturday and up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) Sunday in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas, the National Weather Service said. That means elevated fire weather conditions are expected due to gusty winds and low humidity. New evacuations were ordered in Carpinteria, a seaside city in Santa Barbara County that has been under fire threat for days.

And more than 85,000 people were without electricity in the Santa Barbara area.

Death toll: The death toll from the Thomas Fire stands at one. Virginia Pesola, 70, was killed in a vehicle crash along an evacuation route Wednesday night. Three of the the state's 10 largest fires, including its biggest in 2003, have been in San Diego.

She said residents in Summerland, Montecito, Carpenteria and Santa Barbara are hopeful the blaze doesn't spread to their communities.

Authorities said 834 structures were destroyed in the blaze and more than 100 were damaged.

The Thomas fire in Ventura County is by far the largest at more than 230,000 acres in size, and it's only about 15% contained as of Monday morning. Firefighters are making progress, with 90% of the blaze contained.

North of San Diego, the 1,660-hectare (4,100-acre) Lilac Fire was 20 percent contained by Saturday, officials said.

Throughout the area, officials reported gains in their battle to contain the fires.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department had seven strike teams assigned to the Thomas fire.

At their peak, this week's fires drove about 212,000 Californians from their homes.

"This is the new normal", Brown said as he surveyed damage from the Thomas Fire. "So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and a place that's getting hotter".

In the meantime, firefighters are redoubling their efforts in the region.

Yet new fires were popping up, and danger persisted. "And then at the same time, we were like, 'OK, my family's OK".

A number of celebrities voiced their thanks to firefighters and concern for the communities at risk from fire.

A spokesman for DeGeneres declined to provide any other details on Monday.

One woman, Lauren Fuga, said she watched in shock as the Liberty fire burned down part of her home in Murrieta. Montecito is also home to Oprah Winfrey who wrote on Twitter: "Peace be Still, is my prayer tonight".

At least 25,000 homes are threatened by five wildfires, according to the fire protection agency CAL FIRE.

And the Nevada Department of Corrections and Nevada Division of Forestry, which run conservation camps for inmates, have sent six trained crews of minimum-security inmates to fight the Thomas Fire.

A house in Carpinteria, California, burns in the Thomas Fire on December 10, 2017.



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