In Southern California, many are being forced to flee because of the wildfires. Officials refer to the wildfires as the “Thomas Fire.” The “Thomas Fire” started on Dec. 4th, about 69 miles from Los Angeles. According to Fox News, about 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
Officials had not yet figure out what caused the “Thomas Fire” to start in the first place. On Dec. 6th, another wildfire erupted known as the “Skirball Fire.” It burned about 422 acres and was around in the area of Bel-Air neighborhood. The “Skirball Fire” started because of an illegal cooking fire under the San Diego Freeway.
Scott McLean, an information officer at the California Department Of Forestry and Fire explained that the wildfires have been so destructive recently because of the drought that California has had for the last 5 years, which created a lot of dead vegetation. This year, California had a good amount of rainfall during the spring, but the summer heat dried out the growth of the vegetation.
The autumn winds is also something to worry about. It is fueling the wildfires, causing the wildfires to spread faster and cover more area. This year, primarily, it is the Santa Ana winds that are fueling a lot of the wildfires. Usually, most winds will blow off to the Pacific Ocean, but the Santa Ana winds blow off into the desert of Arizona, then move west toward California. The millions of dead trees also allows wildfires to move quicker, scorching more land.
On Dec. 11th, the Santa Ana winds begin cooperating by pushing the fire away from the nearby communities, which allowed firefighters to see and help people. The “Thomas Fire” has destroyed around 1,000 structures. There has been only one death so far, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola died in a car crash while trying to evacuate from the “Thomas Fire.” A firefighter was injured while 3 other people were burned trying to retrieve the woman’s body.
Later, a firefighter was killed by the “Thomas Fire.” According to CNN, Lynne Tolmachoff, the spokesperson for The California Department Of Forestry and Fire Protection, the firefighter was driving on a fire engine on the east flank of the “Thomas Fire.” The man had not been identified at the time of this article, but he was pronounced dead on the scene by a medical team.
CNN meteorologist, Brandon Miller, reported that the winds had been picking up again and would make the job tougher for the 8,000 firefighters. CalFire had reported that about 1,000 fire engines, and 27 helicopters are involved in dealing with the “Thomas Fire” alone. The winds continue to be fierce, with the wind going 60 mph in the mountains, and about 35-50 mph in the valley-coastal areas.