Strong Winds on Thursday Fuel LA Fires
By Todd Norman
Over 110,000 people have evacuation orders in LA. Fires continue to spread and grow in the Ventura, Bel-Air and Kagel Canyon areas. Hundreds of Schools have been shut down and many homes are at risk.
The Bel-Air fire continues to grow right next to a densely populated area. With Firefighters already dealing with two large fires, the Creek fire and Thomas fire, one more adds even more strain.
The Thomas fire, burning near Ventura, has already scorched 96,000 acres. While there was a small respite from the winds yesterday, the winds picked up again last night fueling the fire even further.
Garo, Kuradjian, Ventura County Sheriff's captain stated "It's definitely moving... forecasters were correct in terms of wind forecast for tonight - it's much windier than it was yesterday."
With winds like this evacuation has become the priority. "These winds will be where there is no ability to fight these fires" stated Ken Pimlott, fire protection official of Cal Fire "This will be about evacuations and getting people out from in front of any fires that start."
As the Fires continue to spread, so do the evacuation orders. Many homes have already been lost, with heartbreaking stories of loss. As the Christmas Holidays approach this loss can feel even more intense.
The LA Times reports about Geoff Marcus who was one of those who has already lost his home in the Thomas fire.
"I feel a loss but my family is safe, and, well that's all I care about. These are all possessions that can be replaced,' he said, walking through piles of burned wood and appliances. 'This was a happy place where we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything my mom has collected and cherished is gone,' he said"
While these fires are still small compared to the Napa Valley fires that burned 128,000 acres, there is worry that they will continue to spread today. The National Weather Service said Thursday will be the worst day for firefighting, as the forecast is indicating high winds and dry weather.
Extreme winds, which area predicted to reach 40 to 60 miles per hour through the county, are helping the fire move quickly and knocking down power lines and trees.
There is a grade in which fire experts grade fire danger. They measure moisture in dead vegetation, temperature, assess historical weather information, and wind speed and direction. 48 is considered high. 162 is considered extreme. Thursday is scored at 296, a record.
Like this fires behave unpredictably. Experts are saying to expect the fire to continue to grow drastically today. Ken Pimlott advised "At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is that 'watch the news and go about your day.' This is pay attention minute-by-minute ... keep your head on a swivel."
In any disaster that's what it comes down to. Stay alert, and stay ready, ready to get you and your loved ones to safety.
The fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes we have seen this year are great reminders that no one is immune, not matter the location. We each are responsible to prepare ourselves and our families before disaster strikes. Have a plan in place, and build up your emergency supplies.
Stay safe out there!