California wildfires: Two fast-moving blazes claim nine lives, force thousands to flee their homes
Fanned by ferocious Santa Ana winds and fueled by dry tinder, the fires immolated a mountain town and jangled the nerves of many tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate their homes.
San Francisco: Two fast-moving wildfires that exploded in the Southern California hills have claimed nine lives and forced thousands to flee their homes, including the entire city of Malibu, a sprawling naval base and many Hollywood celebrity homes. Fanned by ferocious Santa Ana winds and fueled by dry tinder, the fires immolated a mountain town and jangled the nerves of many tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate their homes.
The blazes thus far have proved to be unstoppable, operating at flash-flood velocity. The big wildfire here in Southern California, known as the "Woolsey Fire", quadrupled in size by Friday evening, covering more than 22 square miles, with no containment. It easily jumped eight-lane Highway 101 and rambled over the Santa Monica Mountains to posh Malibu, where it torched homes and cars. The wildfire then finally ran into its only match so far: the Pacific Ocean, The Washington Post reported.
The bulletins from the northern part of the state were even worse. At least nine people died in or near their homes or vehicles as they tried to outrace the "Camp Fire" that started on Thursday morning, has devastated the mountain town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of the state capital, Sacramento. Among the celebrity homes reportedly damaged—if not destroyed—was the home of Caitlyn Jenner, who posted an Instagram video reporting that she was in a safe house, but wasn't sure what has become of her home.
Other celebrities in southern California who have reported on social media that they were evacuated from their homes due to the fast-moving fires include Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, her sister Kourtney Kardashian and Mark Hammill. Among the properties destroyed by the Woolsey Fire was the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, where hundreds of movies and television shows, including HBO's "Westworld", have been filmed, stretching back to the 1920s.
The freeway was closed in both directions near the Liberty Canyon Road exit due to "very active fire conditions", authorities said. The California fire season normally begins in late spring and lasts through summer. But hot, dry weather has persisted this year well into autumn, and the winter rains have yet to arrive. The Santa Ana winds, which blow out of the Sierra Nevadas and toward the western coastline, are building into howling gales that dry the vegetation and the soil, creating potentially explosive fire conditions.
California wildfires: Number of people missing crosses 1,000, at least 74 killed so far; rescue operations still underway
The number of people missing in a devastating wildfire in northern California jumped to more than 1,000 on Friday, authorities said, as the remains of eight other victims were found by rescuers.
California wildfires toll rises to 81: With 75 percent of blaze contained, officials now hope for significant rain
In northern California, the so-called Camp Fire has scored 152,000 acres of land and destroyed more than 12,600 homes.
California wildfires: Toll rises to 78, over 1,200 people still missing; firefighters say blaze contained 50%
A second blaze in Southern California called the Woolsey Fire started northwest of Los Angeles also on 8 November and has been moving toward the Pacific Coast.