California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

Gusty Winds, Low Humidity Prompt Red Flag Fire Warning for Santa Barbara County

Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in Los Angeles, as a wildfire rips through the region. It was fanned by winds clocked at well over 60 miles per hour (96 kph).

Fanned by gusts of wind of up to 70mph, the fire spread rapidly, leading to the evacuation of at least 1,000 homes across the county. About 2,500 homes were ordered evacuated. TV reports showed homes in flames, along with Vista del Mar Hospital, which treats patients with mental problems or substance abuse, including veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Lorenzen added that all firefighters can do at this stage is try and get ahead of the fire and protect structures.

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. The fire erupted near Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

"The prospects for containment are not good", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. He said daylight would allow air tankers and helicopters to go into action. Thomas Aquinas College, which about 350 students attend, has also been evacuated.

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Fire crews from Northern California were dispatched south, as Cal Fire moved 10 fire trucks and crews.to be pre-positioned to south of the Tehachapis.

The National Weather Service said easterly Santa Ana winds fueling the fire had registered gusts of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour). They blow westward, from inland areas toward the coast, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.

With heightened fire danger in Southern California, San Diego Gas & Electric started shutting down power in at-risk areas including Descanso Tuesday.

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