California Wildfires burn 56,000 acres, state of emergency declared

Driven by powerful Santa Ana winds, wildfires burned an estimated 56,000 acres in Ventura County and Los Angeles County, California over just a 13 hours period. Residents were warned to evacuate and hundreds of homes and other structures have been destroyed. From CNN:

The fast-moving fire — the largest of several wind-driven blazes in Southern California — forced sheriff’s deputies to knock on doors to warn residents to evacuate in the dark. About 150 buildings, including homes and an evacuated Ventura hospital, have been destroyed…

An evacuee, Catherine Wastweet, stood on a street Tuesday morning and looked up to the foothills where her neighborhood was aflame.

“We live up there … but we just don’t know whether our house is burned down or not, because we can’t even see through all of the smoke,” she said.

Tuesday Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency declaration for the area. “This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” he said in a statement. He added, “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

The air in Los Angeles was smoky Tuesday morning and the Getty Center which sits atop a hill alongside the 405 freeway was closed, “to prevent damage to the collections from smoke from the fires in the region.”

As is often the case with a story like this, you can’t really get a sense of it until you see it. There are currently three separate fires that firefighters are battling. The Thomas Fire near Ventura (which has burned 45,000 acres), the Creek Fire near Sylmar (which has burned 11,000 acres) and the smaller Rye fire in Santa Clarita. Here are some videos showing how widespread the impact of these fires is right now, starting with the Creek Fire:

Here’s video of firefighters showing up to battle the Rye fire:

And finally the Thomas fire:

This woman’s house was destroyed.

Finally, this clip was shot last night by firefighters in Ventura.

Winds in Los Angeles are gusting up to 70 miles per hour and the winds are expected to continue for the next few days.