Close Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, reaches Pacific Ocean as it jumps 101 Freeway
Date TimeDecember 05, 2017

Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, reaches Pacific Ocean as it jumps 101 Freeway

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The destructive Thomas fire finally met a fire line it could not jump: the Pacific Ocean.
The fast-moving, wind-driven wildfire continued to rage through the city of Ventura on Tuesday evening, jumping Highway 33 and burning through oil fields before crossing the 101 Freeway into Solimar Beach, authorities said.
The blaze has consumed 50,500 acres on its journey to the ocean. The 101 remains open, but authorities warned drivers to be cautious traveling through the area.
Thousands of homes were still threatened by flames, 27,000 people were forced to flee, a firefighter was injured and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, as some 1,100 personnel continued to battle the blaze.
At least 150 structures — including one large apartment complex and the Vista Del Mar Hospital, a psychiatric facility — were consumed by flames. But Cal Fire suspects the true number is hundreds more; firefighters just haven’t been able to get into areas to know for sure.
Authorities Tuesday evening continued to widen evacuation zones and announced dozens of school closures in Ventura and Conejo Valley for Wednesday.
The Casitas Municipal Water District warned residents to boil their tap water for about a minute before drinking and cooking. The order was issued to residents in the Upper Ojai Valley, Casitas Springs, Foster Park and the entire city of Ventura because of the loss of pressure and water supply from fire-related power outages.
The fall weather sequence helped spark the Thomas fire, which as of 7:45 p.m. Tuesday was 0% contained, fire officials said. In the last couple of years, the rains came before the Santa Ana winds. But this year, with no rain in three months, the winds hit dry fuels.
“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.”
The state sent resources to help with firefighting efforts as authorities opened new shelters throughout the county. Ventura County officials have asked the state for eight fixed-wing firefighting aircraft to help douse the flames, said Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Donoghue.
The blaze started about 6:25 p.m. Monday in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, a popular hiking destination. It grew wildly to more than 15 square miles in the hours that followed — consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said.


Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, reaches Pacific Ocean as it jumps 101 Freeway

“The burn area is pretty much all the mountains between Ventura and Ojai and extending east to Santa Paula,” Donoghue said. “It’s a challenge because of the enormity of it, and it’s a challenge because it’s pretty rugged terrain.”
Power outages also caused problems for firefighters Monday night and rendered some pumping systems inoperable, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann. Some hydrants couldn’t get water pumped to them because there was no power, he said.
At one point in Ojai, the entire water system went down, including hydrants and drinking water, because a pumping system was damaged by the fire, Kaufmann said.
On Tuesday morning the water district had sent people to Ventura to repair the problems, but he did not know status of the repair.
“It definitely presented a challenge to us,” he said.
By 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire community of Casitas Springs, northwest of Ventura. The evacuation area spreads from the northern portion of Highway 33 into Ojai, said Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Stan Ziegler. The county also issued a voluntary evacuation order for all parts of Ojai Valley not under mandatory evacuation.
In addition to the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura and Nordhoff High School in Ojai, evacuation centers have been set up at the Oxnard College gymnasium and Santa Paula Community Center.
The size of the fire will likely grow, Ziegler said. Authorities are still seeing “erratic fire behavior and erratic winds so it’s making the firefight very difficult," Ziegler said.
Aircraft are available for firefighting efforts, but will usually only drop retardant when winds are below 30 mph, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean.
About 7 a.m., the wind appeared to be pushing the fire east toward Camarillo and north toward Ojai, said Ventura County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Tim Lochman.
On Tuesday, firefighters continued trying to save homes in Ventura, where the fire was active. They faced a red-flag wind advisory that notes ridgeline winds of 35 to 45 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. Winds are expected to decrease somewhat in the afternoon, said Chad Cook, Ventura County Fire Department division chief.

The fire hopscotched through hillside neighborhoods Monday night, burning some homes and sparing others. Some residents hoped the worst might be over in the early hours of the morning when the wind died down. But it picked up with a fury around daybreak, causing more destruction.
Engulfed in flames, the Hawaiian Village Apartments above central Ventura collapsed about 4 a.m.
Water gushed down North Laurel Street as firefighters worked to put out the flaming complex and residents watched, holding cameras and cellphones. The sound of bursting propane tanks filled the air.
Hundreds of firefighters working through the night tried to prevent the blaze from spreading, block by block, as they were confronted by wind gusts of up to 50 mph.
One firefighter was hit by a car while he was protecting homes. He was at a hospital, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Scott Quirarte.
Fire officials said the intensity of the fire, coupled with the high winds, made it pretty much unstoppable.
Schools in the Oxnard, Ventura, Hueneme and Santa Paula school districts were closed Tuesday.
California authorities have secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in firefighting efforts, the Office of Emergency Services announced Tuesday morning.
Fire officials expected flames would rip through at least 50,000 acres in the mountains between Santa Paula and Ventura.
The destruction comes in what was already the worst year on record for wildfires in California. Forty-four people were killed and more than 10,000 structures were lost when fires swept through Northern California’s wine country in October.
The Thomas fire’s movement bears some similarity to Northern California’s Tubbs fire, which ravaged the town of Santa Rosa and killed more than 20 people in October, McLean said.
The Thomas fire has moved almost as quickly as the Tubbs did, with winds pushing flames that started north of a community into a city, he said. Like the Tubbs, there are access issues with the Thomas fire because of the topography, McLean said.
What’s different, though, is that authorities began the morning of the Tubbs firefighting more than a dozen blazes in the area, whereas the Thomas fire is currently the greatest threat in Southern California. The Creek fire, near Sylmar, was at 11,000 acres early Tuesday afternoon and had destroyed at least 30 structures.
There were no confirmed fatalities in the Thomas fire as of 2 p.m., authorities said.
Southern California has been under red-flag weather conditions since Monday, with “the strongest and longest duration Santa Ana wind event we have seen so far this season” expected through at least Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
The dry, gusty Santa Ana winds will continue for at least the next three days, the National Weather Service said.
“Generally, it’s awful fire weather today, tomorrow and Thursday,” said forecaster Ryan Kittell. “The winds we’re seeing right now are … plenty strong to drive a fire.”
It doesn’t matter that the winds are relatively cool compared to typical Santa Anas because wind gusts are so powerful and dry, he said.

Ventura County wildfire rages over 50,000 acres, reaches Pacific Ocean as it jumps 101 Freeway

Ventura County fire officials reported Monday night that one person was killed in a traffic accident on a road closed due to the Thomas fire. But at about 6 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said no human fatalities were confirmed — although they added that one dog had died.
At least 1,000 homes in Ventura, Santa Paula and Ojai were evacuated.
More than 260,000 customers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties lost power as the fire raged. By noon Tuesday 15,000 homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were still without power, said Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Netter.
More homes may lose power as the fires continue to spread, and some may be without power for days, Netter said.
“We’re encouraging conservation because of the power fluctuations,” he said. “Every little bit helps when it comes to maintaining power as we restore it.”
Just north of Foothill Boulevard, along Hilltop Drive, Mark Urban, 53, took a moment about 7 a.m. Tuesday to inspect the front of his home, where at least two spot fires had broken out; one was put out by firefighters and the other by himself, using a garden hose.
Urban said he and his wife began evacuating their Spanish-style home about 11 p.m. Monday and headed to the Ventura fairgrounds. About 1 a.m., though, he returned to grab more belongings and decided to stay to defend their home with a hose, he said.
“I just kept hitting the hot spots,” Urban said.
A crowd gathered Tuesday morning in the street at the top of a hilly Santa Paula neighborhood, watching as black smoke and flames crept along a tawny ridge near dozens of white, tan and pink houses.
Gusts ripped red flowers off a bougainvillea and sent flames billowing upward a few hundred feet from houses along Coronado Circle.
Doctors and nurses in scrubs who had stepped out of nearby Santa Paula Hospital put on face masks and pulled out cellphones to record the fire.
The hospital was closed Tuesday to incoming patients and all surgeries were canceled, according to a doctor and a technician who were not authorized to talk to the media. About 16 patients remained in the 28-bed facility and could be quickly evacuated if fire officials gave the word, they said.
Beverly Moore stood on 10th Street with a black hoodie drawn tightly over her head to block the strong winds, watching the fire.
Moore moved to Coronado Circle about eight years ago, when the neighborhood was new. She knew fire was a risk, because the street opens onto hundreds of acres of open space that is covered in dry brush, she said. Even so, she wasn’t prepared to watch the fire come so close to her house.
In her rush to leave home, Moore said, she’d grabbed her violin, but forgot her jewelry and her daughter’s guitar.
Police cars blocked the street, stopping residents from returning to their homes. A Santa Paula police officer allowed Moore back in, telling her to hurry.
She returned 15 minutes later, smiling, her jewelry in a brown shopping bag, her father’s will in a manila envelope, and her daughter’s guitar slung across her back.
“It’s all she wanted,” Moore said. “I’ve done what I could.”
By late Tuesday morning, evacuees were beginning to learn the fate of their homes.
Darlene Gonzalez and her husband scrambled to evacuate Monday by 6 p.m., just after they got off work. They fled with clothes, passports and other paperwork, but left her husband’s most cherished possessions in the garage: A 1959 Chevrolet El Camino and a 1928 Ford (“a Bonnie and Clyde car,” Gonzalez said).
“You work so hard all your life, and now this,” Gonzalez said. “But what can you do? Fire is fire.”
At least two buildings on the campus of Vista Del Mar Hospital burned down as the Thomas fire ravaged the canyons above Ventura.
The hospital treats adolescents and adults with mental health issues, and among its specialties is treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Patients were evacuated and by Tuesday morning, two buildings were completely destroyed by flames, with the rubble of stucco walls and clay roofs smoldering under the smoky sky.
“There’s a huge need for this facility,” said Roger Case, 76, explaining that it welcomes patients from Fresno to the San Fernando Valley. Case is an advisory board member.
In addition to serving about 80 patients at a time, the facility also employs about 230 people.
Many have found their way to evacuation centers, waiting out the fire.
Inside the shelter at the Ventura County fairgrounds Tuesday morning, some volunteers handed out water and bananas to evacuees who spent the night. Others grabbed the green cots that crowded the concrete floor and walked them over to the larger livestock shelter where the evacuees were being moved.
Rudy Avendano and his family voluntarily evacuated their home on Richmond Road about 3 a.m. His daughter Felicia had woken up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom when she saw flashing lights on the street.
She stepped outside and asked the police if they were being evacuated.
“We strongly suggest it,” she remembered the officer saying.
She quickly woke her parents and two sisters. They grabbed the items they’d packed earlier in the day — clothes, blankets, documents, photo albums and a mandolin — and jumped into their cars with their pit bull-Labrador mix, Bear.
Avendano, 60, said he saw a continuous ribbon of orange flames licking the hills on the drive to the fairgrounds.
Throughout the drive, he said, he thought of the extra food he should have thrown in the car. A gallon of Sunny Delight and a box of crackers from Trader Joe’s weren’t enough, he said with a laugh.

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US enters new phase as women change the face of Congress
Kylie Jenner channels Meghan Markle on New Year's Eve
Kim Kardashian West roasted over 'Bird Box'
Miley Cyrus Spends New Year's With Liam Hemsworth's Family After Surprise Wedding
Pete Davidson Reveals ‘Sad’ First Reaction To Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’
Tesla shares fall on price cut, soft Model 3 deliveries
Madonna Delivers Rousing Speech As She Spends New Year's Eve At The Historic Stonewall Inn
Kobe Bryant announces he and wife Vanessa expecting fourth baby girl
Harry Reid: Trump Is 'The Worst President We've Ever Had'
Mitt Romney: Trump's biggest failure is a lack of character in leading 'divided' nation
Greggs launches vegan sausage roll
Christian Pulisic joins Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for £58m
Kate Middleton Reportedly Waited Until Meghan Markle Left Before Joining Royal Family Hunt
Volunteers Prepare Flower-Decked Floats for Rose Parade
Dry January might be bad for your health
Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus
Jamie Vardy punishes dismal Everton as Leicester start new year in winning style
Tokyo car attack: Driver hits New Year's revelers in city's Harajuku district
Hubble telescope 'mother' Nancy Grace Roman dies
Comedian Louis C.K. mocks Parkland shooting survivors in leaked audio
U.S. Citizen Arrested In Moscow On Suspicion Of Spying
NFL coaching picture: Dirk Koetter, Todd Bowles fired; Dolphins’ Adam Gase awaits his fate
Elizabeth Warren announces 2020 run for president against Trump
Peter Thompson, former Liverpool and England winger, dies aged 76
Is Selena Gomez Sending Cryptic Messages With Her Graphic T-Shirts?
Bre Payton, 26-year-old conservative writer, dies following sudden illness
Gavin and Stacey actor Mathew Horne 'hit by train after night out'
John Kelly blames Jeff Sessions for 'zero tolerance,' family separations along border
Rashford learns from master at Solskjaer's finishing school
'Bird Box,' starring Sandra Bullock sets new Netflix viewing record in its first week
A Vegas star is born: Lady Gaga stuns, soars in Sin City debut
Sears Holdings announced another round of store closures
Mega Millions jackpot grows -- with next drawing on New Year's Day
Ryan Jack gives Rangers deserved Old Firm victory over Celtic
Alastair Cook knighted, Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane awarded in New Year’s honours
Kim and Kanye buying $14M luxury condo in Miami
Kevin Spacey ‘Let Me Be Frank’ YouTube Video Tops 8 Million Views In 3 Days
Tesla names Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson to board after SEC settlement
Angelina Jolie open to move into politics
HMV Administration: Thousands Of Jobs At Risk As Retailer Collapses For Second Time In Six Years
KTLA anchor Chris Burrous dies at 43
Instagram update 2018: What is the new Instagram update, is it coming back?
Nationwide internet outage hits CenturyLink customers
Israeli novelist Amos Oz dies aged 79
'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch': Here's What Critics And Fans Are Saying About The New Game-Changing Episode
NASA wants you to celebrate New Years with its New Horizons space probe
Kim Kardashian slammed over North West's lipstick
Putin Says 'Invulnerable' New Hypersonic Nuclear Missile Is Ready For Deployment
Miley Cyrus confirms secret wedding to Liam Hemsworth
Secret new ‘Black Mirror’ movie now has a trailer, release date
Ariana Grande FaceTimes With Her Estranged Father on Christmas
Box Office: 'Aquaman' Hits $106M; 'Holmes & Watson' Gets D+ CinemaScore
How your holiday travel plans will be impacted by the partial federal government shutdown
Liverpool goes six points clear in EPL as Man City loses at Leicester
Russia: Hole drilled from inside Int'l Space Station capsule
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry join Kate Middleton, Prince William for Christmas Day service amid feud rumors
Kendall Jenner Has A Hilarious Response To Being Left Out Of Kardashian Christmas Card
Trump asks 7-year-old, 'Are you still a believer in Santa?'
Us trailer: How to watch the trailer for Jordan Peele's new horror movie
SpaceX closes out year with successful GPS satellite launch
Pete Davidson gets VIP treatment at Machine Gun Kelly concert a week after disturbing post
Miley Cyrus Sent Ariana Grande the Sweetest Text After Her Split from Pete Davidson
Kourtney Kardashian And Sofia Richie Look Like They're Best Friends On Christmas Vacation Together (PHOTOS)
Stocks plummet after Steven Mnuchin's odd statement fails to calm markets
Box Office: 'Aquaman' Opens to $67M; 'Mary Poppins' Edges Past 'Bumblebee'
Rihanna Gives Fans An Album Update
President Trump not going to change mind on Syria, even after resignations: Mulvaney
Carl Frampton not ready to make a hasty decision on his boxing future
Drone footage shows damage caused by Indonesian tsunami – video
Christmas mail? Sure. But, also, Happy Festivus!
Watch SpaceX launch its final Falcon 9 rocket of the year for the Air Force
LadBaby scores 2018 Christmas No 1 with ode to sausage rolls
Patrick Frazee, the fiancé of missing Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth, is arrested and booked in her murder
'Bird Box' is 'scary-ish': What critics say about Sandra Bullock's blindfolded Netflix drama
Mars: Pictures reveal 'winter wonderland' on the red planet
Elon Musk is the first influencer CEO
Michelle Obama wears $4K thigh-high Balenciaga glitter boots on book tour
Dr. Drew Says Pete Davidson Must Avoid Ariana Grande Because His Life Depends on It
Hold up, Beyonce did not release new music
Andy Cohen reveals he’s welcoming a baby via surrogate
Winter solstice 2018 coincides with full Moon, meteor shower: Everything you need to know
Barack Obama Delights Children As Santa In Surprise Visit To Hospital
Paris Hilton keeping 20-carat engagement ring
Rachel McAdams went haute couture with a breast pump
Wounded Warrior's GoFundMe Page For Border Wall at $3.9 Million So Far
New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away to focus on mental health
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson Suit Up in ‘Men in Black International’ First Trailer
Vladimir Putin tells Theresa May to 'fulfil will of people' on Brexit
Gatwick flights remain suspended as drones reappear over runway
Ariana Grande recreates ‘Saturday Night Live’ Christmas sketch days after ex Pete Davidson's alarming post
Selena Gomez reappears in Instagram for first time since entering treatment facility
Meghan Markle Reunites With Kate Middleton Amid Feud Rumors
Report: Facebook Allowed Spotify to Read Your Private Messages
‘Banksy’ artwork referencing steelworks appears in Port Talbot
How Emily Blunt's version of Mary Poppins compares to Julie Andrews'
Labour MP Fiona Onasanya Found Guilty Over Speeding Points Switch
PMQs: Does Corbyn call May a 'stupid woman'?
First look at Will Smith as the Genie in ‘Aladdin’ live-action movie
US plans complete withdrawal of troops from Syria, Trump declares ISIS defeated
Watch Miley Cyrus Cover Ariana Grande's "No Tears Left to Cry"
Pete Davidson's friends rally to his side
Sandra Bullock, 54, Looks Half Her Age In High Slit Dress & Sexy High Boots Before ‘Late Show’ Taping
Cardi B performs 'I Like It' at senior center and gets asked out on a date
Woman claims underage relationship with Woody Allen in 1970s
SpaceX to launch US spy satellite
On his 75th birthday, a look at Keith Richards' outlandish, quirky quotes over the years
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