New evacuations as huge Southern California fire flares up

LOS ANGELES — A flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through canyons and down hillsides toward coastal towns.

Crews with help from water-dropping aircraft saved several homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze churning deeper into foothill areas northwest of Los Angeles that haven’t burned in decades. New evacuations were ordered in Carpinteria, a seaside city in Santa Barbara County that has been under fire threat for days.

“The winds are kind of squirrely right now,” said county fire spokesman Mike Eliason. “Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it’s blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we’re in.”

The department posted a photo of one residence engulfed in flames before dawn. It’s unclear whether other structures burned. Thousands of homes in the county were without power.

Firefighters made significant progress Saturday on other fronts of the enormous fire that started Dec. 4 in neighbouring Ventura County. Containment was way up on other major blazes in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties.

Forecasters said Santa Ana winds that whipped fires across the region last week were expected to die down later Sunday — but not before creating possible gusts topping 50 mph (80 kph).

A lack of rain has officials on edge statewide because of parched conditions and no end in sight to the typical fire season.

“This is the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura fire. “We’re about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual.”

High fire risk is expected to last into January and the governor and experts said climate change is making it a year-round threat.

Overall, the fires have destroyed nearly 800 homes and other buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced more than 200,000 people to flee flames that have burned over 270 square miles (700 square kilometres) since Dec. 4. One death, so far, a 70-year-old woman who crashed her car on an evacuation route, is attributed to the fire in Santa Paula, a small city where the fire began.

The Ventura County blaze continued to burn into rugged mountains in the Los Padres National Forest near the little town of Ojai and toward a preserve established for endangered California condors.

As fires burned in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, firefighters were already in place north of San Diego on Thursday when a major fire erupted and rapidly spread in the Fallbrook area, known for its avocado groves and horse stables in the rolling hills.

The fire swept through the San Luis Rey Training Facility, where it killed more than 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes — most of them in a retirement community. Three people were burned trying to escape the fire that continued to smoulder Sunday.

Most of last week’s fires were in places that burned in the past, including one in the ritzy Los Angeles neighbourhood of Bel-Air that burned six homes and another in the city’s rugged foothills above the community of Sylmar and in Santa Paula.

___

Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in Fallbrook and Brian Melley and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

___

Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM .

___

For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires.

Christopher Weber, The Associated Press

 

Just Posted

Wildfire that threatened Alberta communities was arson: RCMP, province

EDMONTON — A wildfire that threatened remote communities in north-central Alberta and… Continue reading

Fatal vehicle crash reported near Rimbey

Multiple vehicles involved

Ukraine’s president urges lawmakers to take polygraph test

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president on Wednesday urged a group of lawmakers… Continue reading

Rogers Communications reports $593M third-quarter profit, cuts revenue guidance

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. cut its financial guidance as it reported… Continue reading

Mock federal election for students also ends in Liberal minority

If Canada’s elementary and high school students were the ones responsible for… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Very complex: Nats, Astros share spring site, meet in Series

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Asked how his Washington Nationals figured out… Continue reading

Canada’s Milos Raonic loses to Korea’s Hyeon Chung in return from injury

VIENNA — Milos Raonic’s first tour match in more than two months… Continue reading

Loughlin, 10 other parents charged anew in college scandal

BOSTON — “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo… Continue reading

Louvre exhibit acclaims Da Vinci, 500 years after his death

PARIS — Much about Leonardo Da Vinci remains an enigma: the smile… Continue reading

Trudeau must keep promise to support the West, Kenney and Moe say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to support the West should be more… Continue reading

Nationals get best of Gerrit Cole, beat Astros in World Series Game 1

Nationals 5 Astros 4 HOUSTON —The first game of any World Series… Continue reading

Carlson scores twice for Washington Capitals in 5-3 win over Calgary Flames

Capitals 5 Flames 3 CALGARY — Defenceman John Carlson’s two goals paced… Continue reading

Most Read