LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) – The first death has been reported in the raging wildfires in Southern California.
The body of a burned woman was found next to an overturned car. No other details were available.
Firefighters are battling high winds and low humidity while thousands of displaced residents wait to see if their homes will be saved.
Crews faced a wall of flames early Thursday at the Thomas fire in Ventura County.
It is the largest of four wildfires that have been devouring homes and is now threatening the city of Ojai.
Winds could hit 80 miles an hour, lifting the danger rating system to uncharted territory.
“Today is the first time a purple rating has shown up, it is the most extreme rating that we have,” said Tom Porter with CAL Fire. “It indicates that any spark can and will start a fire and dire that start will be almost impossible to contain.”
With the fires spreading quickly, authorities are issuing new evacuations orders every day.
The fires have forced upwards of 200,000 people from their homes.
In some neighborhoods, residents are returning to find their homes leveled and the home next door untouched.
At least 200 homes have burned to the ground.
Laura Sanders has been searching for cherished belongings in the rubble of her Shadow Hills home.
“I found a whole bunch of books and as soon as you touch it, it just disintegrated,” she said.
The fires are disrupting the lives of thousands of people in the Los Angeles area.
Numerous highways are closed and with smoke drifting for miles, dozens of schools are shut for the rest of the week as crews fight hard to get the massive blazes under control.
At UCLA, students are circulating a petition arguing that the university waited too long to cancel classes and called for administrators to review emergency management procedures.