The fire started in Ventura County consumed thousands of acres in just hours, so hundreds of families were evacuated during the night. The drought and strong winds contributed to its rapid spread. One person died in a traffic accident when trying to escape from the flames.
An apartment complex in the city of Ventura, Hawaiian Village, completely burned down and collapsed around 4:00 in the morning.
Strong gusts of Santa Ana winds feed the fire and make it difficult for the extinguishing teams to use aerial means to fight it from the air.
The so-called Thomas fire gained ground during the early morning hours and threatens residential areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants in the city of Santa Paula and Ventura, two locations located about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Both have declared a local emergency.
The Ventura County Fire Department said the fire has so far consumed 31,000 acres and the winds are increasing, so they hope the situation could worsen.
More than 500 firefighters fight flames at this time and at least one member of the team was injured when hit by a car while fighting the fire.
UPDATE: #ThomasFire is currently 31,000 acres with 150 structures destroyed. 1 firefighter injury. 27,000 people evacuated. #VCFD @VCFD
About 150 structures – including at least one large apartment complex – were consumed by the flames, sweeping everything in its path to about a quarter of a mile from City Hall, according to the Los Angeles Times.
— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) December 5, 2017
Hundreds of families fled at night with only minutes of notice, unable to take many belongings with them.
A resident died when he overturned his vehicle while trying to escape the flames.
The reason for the fire, which began on Monday night in Santa Paula on the slopes near Highway 150, is unknown. The drought and winds with gusts of between 25 to 50 miles per hour stoked the flames and expanded rapidly.