Fire crews have made progress on the blazes in the Ventura, Santa Clarita, and Sylmar areas
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on December 6. It has been updated throughout to reflect the latest information.
Three big fires are burning more than 115,000 acres across Southern California, ravaging homes and creating uncertainty for many living near active burn areas.
“Be vigilant,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby warned residents.
In Ventura County, the devastating Thomas Fire has grown to a staggering 96,000 acres, is creeping toward Ojai and Carpinteria, and is only 5 percent contained. Ventura County fire officials told the Los Angeles Times that due to intense winds and low humidity, they may be fighting the fire for weeks.
The Creek Fire continues to burn east of Sylmar and has now consumed 12,065 acres, says the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The fire is now 10 percent contained, and the majority of evacuated families can now return home.
The Rye Fire near Santa Clarita has burned 7,000 acres, but it is 15 percent contained and the area’s evacuations were lifted earlier today, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department.
Both maps shows the trio of major fires and their perimeters, and also include some information on smaller fires, including the 20 percent-contained, 475-acre Skirball Fire near the Getty Museum. Many residents evacuated for this fire will be able to return home later tonight.
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said Wednesday that combating so many fires at once was tasking resources. His department had deployed a strike team to the Thomas Fire, 400 firefighters to the Creek Fire, and 350 to Skirball. All of LAFD’s bulldozers were at the Creek Fire, so he had to borrow equipment from other fire departments to help build a fire line at Skirball.
“We are stretched thin,” he said. Between the Creek and Skirball fires alone, there were reportedly 17,000 firefighters working to beat back the blaze yesterday.
Fire officials say that the fires have been fueled by Santa Ana wind conditions and an excess of dry brush due to a lack of rainfall that usually comes this time of year. The National Weather Service expects Santa Ana wind conditions in LA and Ventura counties to continue into Saturday.