(LOS ANGELES) — Communities along Southern California’s coast were still seeing fresh evacuations on Sunday as the seemingly unstoppable Thomas fire, fueled by plentiful brush and shifty Santa Ana winds Several swaths of the city of Carpinteria were placed under mandatory evacuation overnight and into Sunday, fire officials confirmed, as the blaze continues to threaten structures.
The Thomas fire, which since Monday has been battled by 4,400 firefighters and has torched 173,000 acres, remains only 15 percent contained.
One firefighter suffered an injured leg while battling the Thomas fire, Cal Fire officials confirmed to ABC News. The Thomas fire has also knocked out power lines to thousands.
There was also limited refuge for the evacuees as parts of Ventura, Ojai, Casitas Springs, Santa Paula and Fillmore are still being threatened by blazes, fire officials said.
The news of the fire’s continued devastation in the already scorched region comes a day after firefighters across Southern California made dramatic headway in the week’s battle against six major wildfires that have dragged the state’s fire season well into December.
On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown surveyed some of the remains of Thomas Fire, which started in Ventura, fire officials said.
The governor said the prolonged fire season is becoming the norm.
“[We’re] facing a new reality in the state,” he said. “It’s a horror and a horror we need to recover from.”
He also noted that the years of drought and climate change have caused experts to conclude that “California is burning up.”
From here on in California, Brown said, fires are going to be more “intense” and penetrate lives and property.
“Individuals need to come together to make our communities livable,” he said.
The breakdown of the blazes and shift in winds gave firefighters in the region much-needed respite.
The newest blazes, the Lilac fire in San Diego County and the Liberty fire in Riverside County, which was 20 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, are also being fueled by continued Santa Ana winds and low humidity, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo said the forecast for those fire-ravaged areas remains serious.
Red flag warnings have remained in effect for much of Southern California with peak wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph. Low relative humidity –- as low as 5 percent — is likely through this period, as well, Manzo said.
Winds could exceed 50 mph in the mountains east of San Diego, an area that was of particular concern for fire growth on Sunday.
Winds gusts in Ventura and Los Angeles counties were expected to diminish Sunday afternoon from 60 mph to 45 mph due to an onshore flow beginning to develop, according to Cal Fire’s website.
The winds had exceeded 60 mph during the week, causing embers to spread.
Gusts were in the 30 to 50 mph range in San Diego County and 25 mph in Santa Barbara where the evacuations were taking place.
Low humidity around Southern California has staggered in the teens to single digits.
It took 8,500 firefighters to battle the first four large wildfires and then new ones have continued spreading rapidly, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Overall, the six blazes have burned more than 200,000 acres and forced more than 98,000 residents from their homes.
A 70-year-old woman was identified Friday as the first victim of the fires.
The Skirball fire is small, but its threat to heavily populated areas of Los Angeles, including Bel Air, has drawn widespread attention.
All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and 17 schools on Los Angeles’ west side were shuttered last week, citing the poor air quality. At least 265 schools have been closed. UCLA canceled classes during the week because of the Skirball fire.
On Friday, the district announced that all schools will reopen Monday.
The Thomas fire in Ventura County, the largest of the six blazes, started Monday night as a 50-acre brush fire in foothills east of Santa Paula and grew to 10,000 acres in just four hours, authorities said.
The fire had burned 173,000 acres of land by Sunday morning and was holding at just 15 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
More than 98,000 residents were evacuated, and 25,000 structures are threatened by the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Thomas Fire has since spread to Santa Barbara County late Thursday, prompting California Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a state of emergency for the county, the third to be designated.
There were 9,000 firefighting personnel on the scene of the massive blaze.
Authorities said 834 structures were destroyed in the blaze and more than 100 were damaged.
Officials were concerned about part of the Thomas Fire heading northeast and threatening a nursing home in Ojai. The 25 residents and staffers there were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said. It’s unclear if the seniors have returned to the nursing home or remain evacuated.
The Creek fire, in the Kagel Canyon area above Los Angeles’ Sylmar neighborhood, has scorched 15,619 acres of land, destroyed at least 105 buildings and damaged another 70. Over 150,000 residents were evacuated and some 2,500 structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and 1,964 personnel are fighting the flames.
The Creek fire was responsible for the death of almost 40 horses at Rancho Padilla, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles. The horses were trapped in a barn that burned to the ground as the owners were evacuated with no warning.
All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted by Saturday morning.
The Rye fire has scorched 6,049 acres in Santa Clarita, west of Valencia. The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, though 5,460 structures are still threatened by the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
About 2,000 residents were evacuated, though mandatory evacuation orders in the area have been lifted.
There were 652 personnel on scene battling the Rye fire Sunday morning.
The Skirball fire has burned more than 400 acres of land so far, but its proximity to Los Angeles and responsibility for briefly shutting down the infamously crowded 405 Freeway has drawn national attention.
The fire had posed a threat to the acclaimed Getty Center, a museum in western Los Angeles. Officials managed to keep the flames from jumping the 405 freeway and heading east. The blaze was 75 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and firefighters have managed to keep it from breaching containment lines.
Six structures were lost in the fire, with an additional 12 damaged. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the flames, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon because of the Skirball fire in the city’s Bel-Air neighborhood.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Friday that flames from the Lilac fire were growing at a “dangerous rate” in San Diego County, where 4,100 acres of land have been burned thus far. At least 182 structures were destroyed and 23 were damaged by the blaze, while an additional 1,500 are threatened.
The fire was 60 percent contained as of Sunday morning.
AlertSanDiego, the region’s cellphone emergency alert system, had sent out 23,000 evacuation messages as of Friday morning, including for new evacuations in Oceanside.
Officials said the Lilac fire began late Thursday morning near Fallbrook and had grown to 50 acres in just an hour. Peak gusts had reached 66 mph Thursday afternoon in Pala, California, near the blaze, contributing to the rapid spread of flames.
Four civilians had suffered injuries and were taken to local hospitals, though authorities could not confirm the severity of the injuries.
Gov. Brown declared a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Lilac fire, his office announced late last week.
The Liberty fire, located in Riverside County near Murrieta, north of Temecula, has scorched 300 acres of land. It was 100 percent contained as of Sunday night, according to the Murrieta Fire and Rescue.
Seven structures were destroyed in the flames, but authorities have lifted all evacuation orders for the area.
One woman, Lauren Fuga, said she watched in shock as the Liberty fire burned down part of her home in Murrieta.
“I just, I’m at a loss for words,” Fuga told KABC-TV through tears. “It’s so horrible. You never think that it’s going to happen to you, and it can.”
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