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08 December 2017, 10:43 | Elsie Buchanan
Thousands forced to flee California wildfires
- A fast-moving brush fire raced across 150 acres in the Sepulveda Pass Wednesday, destroying at least four homes, prompting a rush-hour closure of the San Diego (405) Freeway and forcing mandatory evacuations.
The Thomas fire, which was the first to ignite, has already burned about 90,000 acres of land and is expected to intensify due to the increasing winds.
The area battled gridlocked heavy traffic as ash and smoke churned over the smoldering hillside.
The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state.
"Very strong winds" blowing from the northeast to the southwest were causing the fire to balloon, he said, warning Angelenos to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley, as well as 17 schools on Los Angeles' west side, were shuttered through Friday.
High winds also dissipate fire retardant dropped by aircraft, McLean said. The blaze was accompanied by Santa Ana winds of 25 miles per hour.
Forecasters are calling for another afternoon of gusty winds, which will help fuel the fires on Wednesday. And downtown Los Angeles has received just 0.11 inches of rainfall since the beginning of October, typically the region's west season, according to data from the National Weather Service.
Firefighters were also on the scene of the Rye fire - which had grown to 7,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area - as well as the Creek fire north of downtown Los Angeles that had grown to more than 11,000 acres. California's unusual wildfire activity comes largely thanks to dry conditions in the region and the state's Santa Ana winds.
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