The hot Santa Ana winds that whipped up the “Thomas fire,” which has now consumed more than 90,000 acres in Ventura County, Calif., near Los Angeles gave responding firefighters a brief respite Wednesday, but are expected to make a huge comeback today.
State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott told The Los Angeles Times the area is about to experience a “protracted wind event.” With the fire only 5 percent contained, mainly on its southeastern flank, more mass evacuation orders are expected.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection forecasters said the strong Santa Ana winds, coupled with low humidity, provides a “recipe for explosive fire growth.” Department spokesman Tim Chavez said the 1,100 firefighters battling the blaze “stand a good chance of a challenging night and day tomorrow.”
"There will be no ability to fight fire in these kinds of winds. At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is not “watch the news and go about your day. 'This is pay attention minute-by-minute'… keep your head on a swivel."
The most likely area for growth is the northwest sector, but spot fires could pop up anywhere. As of this writing, 12,000 homes remain threatened by the fire and 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday.