California is Burning
By Pastor Hal Mayer on Dec 07, 2017 12:30 am
Less than two months after the Santa Rosa fires destroyed thousands of homes and killed 40 people, a ravenous, fast-moving wildfire driven by powerful Santa Ana winds scorched over 65,000 acres near Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday, destroying more than 150 buildings and driving tens of thousands of area residents from their homes. It is zero percent contained and very dangerous.
The blaze quickly spread from the hillsides above this city of 30,000 people, about 60 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, down toward the town and west to Ventura. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Ventura County.
“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” Brown said. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”
Wind gusts sometimes exceeding 60 mph complicated the effort, said Rich Macklin, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. “I personally have never seen structures destroyed in Ventura County like this,” Macklin said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep in front of this thing.”
Ironically, after years of drought, it might be the rains that finally swept the region last winter that helped fuel this year’s blazes, according to Mark Bove, a research scientist at reinsurance firm Munich Re. “The rain caused a period of rapid vegetation growth, especially in brush and grasses that cover the state’s hillsides. But the rain stopped by spring, and the new vegetation slowly dried out, becoming ample kindling and fuel for wildfires,” he said.
First reported about 6:20 p.m. PT Monday, the Thomas Fire grew quickly, jumped Highway 150, which cuts a path from Ojai to Santa Paula on the eastern end of the Ventura County. By 2:30 a.m., the fire had spread to 26,000 acres.
The power went out in Santa Paula, Ventura and cities throughout the county just before 10 p.m., as more neighborhoods were ordered to evacuate. Authorities knocked on doors and woke people up to tell them to evacuate. “It’s difficult to follow. It’s a fast-moving fire,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said late Monday. “You must abide by these evacuation notices. You saw the disaster and the losses up north in Sonoma and this is a fast, very dangerous moving fire.”
Flames reached Ventura before midnight Monday, causing the city to issue mandatory evacuations. Ventura Fire Marshal Joe Morelli said tens of thousands of residents were without power. “This is probably one of the most significant events in our city ever,” Morelli said.
At Vista del Mar Hospital, the flames swallowed up a psychiatric facility in Ventura County, an administration building and a unit for adolescents.
The fire ignited Monday evening and has steadily increased in acreage, jumping the 101 Freeway near Solimar Beach Tuesday night and charring 70 square miles. Cal Fire said 12,000 more structures are threatened. More than 7,000 homes in Ventura County were under mandatory evacuation as the blaze closed in on downtown Ventura, where multiple structures were reportedly burning. Fire officials said 27,000 people were evacuated from their residences. Ventura imposed a curfew to limit looting in evacuation areas.
On Tuesday, strong winds whipped through the area and made the firefight dangerous and difficult. There was a lull in the wind Wednesday morning, but stronger Santa Anas were expected to pick up later in the evening and continue into Thursday morning.
“In fires, in floods, in earthquakes, in the fury of the great deep, in calamities by sea and by land, the warning is given that God’s Spirit will not always strive with men.” Last Day Events, page 26.