LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) – Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire that forced thousands of homes to evacuate and could soon threaten a city of more than 100,000.
The blaze broke out on Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sergeant Eric Buschow said. The fire has burned over 30,000 acres.
The winds were pushing it toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Residents said they got reverse 9-1-1 calls ordering them to leave their homes. Most heeded the evacuation warning.
“I’m not going to wait around for someone to come rescue me so I’m outta here,” said June Byrum.
“We’ve been here almost 30 years. We’ve gone through floods, gone through fires, it’s just the wind, you don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Chula Casas who also evacuated.
Shelters have been set up a local school and county fairgrounds for evacuees.
Authorities said that the city of Ventura, which is 12 miles southwest and has 106,000 residents, was likely to feel the effects soon.
One person was killed in an auto accident associated with the fire, officials said.
At least two structures have burned so far, sheriff’s officials said.
Winds exceeding 40 mph and gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue, the National Weather Service said.
Firefighters and aircraft from neighboring Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties were pouring in to help, though the darkness and winds forced the grounding of planes late Monday night.
Thousands of homes were without power in the area.