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California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

Ferocious winds in Southern California have whipped up an explosive wildfire, doubling its size, forcing the evacuation of thousands of homes and knocking out power to thousands more.

CBS News producer Sean Gallitz said he could see an nearly unbroken fire line burning ferociously along the top of the hill side from nearly 20 miles away from on the 101 freeway.

Evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city 12 miles south-west of Santa Paula, with more than 100,000 residents.

Photo Downtown Santa Paula, Calif., was darkened by a power outage Tuesday morning, as smoke from the Thomas Fire rose in the distance. Lorenzen added that all firefighters can do at this stage is try and get ahead of the fire and protect structures.

"This will likely be the strongest and longest duration santa ana wind event we have seen so far this season", the weather service said.

One person was killed in a auto crash while trying to evacuate from the fires, Ventura County Fire chief Mark Lorenzen said in a news conference, according to CNN.

Sheriff's officials said two structures had burned, but it wasn't clear what they were.

A high wind warning also remained in effect Tuesday, with the red flag warning set to expire late Thursday night and the high wind warning expected to expire Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. One of the blazes broke out Monday in Ventura County and grew wildly to more than 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) in a matter of hours, county Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said.

"I'm not going to wait around for someone to come rescue me so I'm outta here", said June Byrum.

The blaze took hold in the early evening in southern California's Ventura County and burned 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) within a few hours.


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