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California fires: Two people burned in new blaze

With weary firefighters continuing their assault on several major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern Cali...

Posted: Dec 8, 2017 12:58 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2017 12:58 PM

With weary firefighters continuing their assault on several major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern California, two new blazes fired up Thursday, adding to the region's smoke-filled misery.

Two people were burned in one new hot spot, known as the Lilac Fire, which was about 45 miles north of San Diego. Officials didn't release the nature of the injuries to the burn victims nor give their conditions.

NEW: 141,000 acres burned in six large wildfires in California

"Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating," official says

The 3,000-acre fire is moving at an "extremely rapid rate," and burning west toward the Vista and Oceanside communities, officials said.

A total of 20 structures were destroyed, according to Cal Fire. Many of those were mobile homes in a community next to where the fire started, said Ron Lane, the deputy chief administrative officer for San Diego County.

To the north in Ventura County, the numbers were much more ominous. The four-day old Thomas Fire had burned 115,000 acres and destroyed 439 buildings, damaging 85 others.

Another new fire, just to the north of the Lilac Fire, had consumed 300 acres. That blaze, called the Liberty Fire, is 10% contained.

The wildfires are testing the stamina of firefighters and military personnel, who have been laboring almost nonstop. On top of exhaustion from the long hours, they're also trying to stave off the effects of smoke inhalation and the airborne embers irritating their eyes.

"Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they're taking a beating, too, but they're cooperating with our orders," Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said earlier.

See photos of the fierce wildfires in Southern California

The state National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing out of Oxnard has also joined the fight, even though roughly 50 of the National Guardsmen involved had to be evacuated themselves, said spokeswoman Maj. Kimberly Holman. Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said.

The fires have pushed 110,000 Californians from their homes. Compounding problems Thursday were dry weather and merciless winds, with gusts predicted to reach the strength of a Category 1 hurricane in mountainous areas.

About 5,500 firefighters -- almost half of them assigned to the massive Thomas Fire alone -- have been fighting the blazes as they race across hillsides and through neighborhoods, officials said. Officials have shut down hundreds of schools spanning at least 16 districts.

It could go down as one of the most destructive fires in state history, and at one point, spread over 31,000 acres in the span of about nine hours -- roughly an acre a second. At that rate, it would have consumed New York's Central Park in about 15 minutes. The plume from the fire stretches 1,000 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

The fire is the most destructive ever in December (due to the number of buildings destroyed), according to Cal Fire records posted online.

7 images that show why the Southern California wildfires are so dangerous

Latest developments

- New measures: Fire officials said Thursday brought a historic fire danger score and prompted them to upgrade their color-coding system to include purple for the first time.

- Areas of concern: Firefighters said they are keeping the Skirball Fire at bay but worry it will jump west of Interstate 405.

- Good news, bad news: The Creek Fire, which is burning north of the San Fernando Valley in the Angeles Forest, grew to about 15,300 acres but containment (20%) also increased, Cal Fire said.

- Sacramento response: California Gov. Jerry Brown has proclaimed an emergency for San Diego County due to the effects of the Lilac Fire, freeing state resources such as the National Guard to support response efforts.

- Able to return home: Evacuees from the Skirball Fire were told they would be allowed back into their neighborhoods Thursday night.

'My little fire baby'

Wednesday was bittersweet for Eric Rosenberg, with his sadness at seeing his neighbors' homes destroyed punctuated by a moment of pure joy: His wife gave birth to a healthy daughter, Mila.

As he filmed the "heartbreaking" scene in his Ventura neighborhood, where six neighbors' homes had been reduced to rubble, he explained he had to rush back to the hospital to see his wife and newborn.

"My little fire baby decided today was the day," he said.

On Thursday, he said his wife and child were doing well, and his home had survived the fire.

A neighbor knocked on his door early Tuesday morning and told him the fire was getting close.

"I walked out the front door, and it looked like a war zone," Rosenberg said.

Police drove through the neighborhood announcing a mandatory evacuation around 4:30 a.m., he said. The family's car was already packed with hospital bags, changes of clothes, laptops, photos, passports, dog food and important financial documents.

"Last trip back inside I grabbed my ketubah off the wall and headed out," he said, using the Hebrew word for a wedding contract.

On Thursday, Rosenberg and his wife were staying with his in-laws in Carpinteria, about 25 minutes from Ventura, and "We can see the billowing smoke clouds in the distance," he said.

Purple is the new red

The battle to contain the blaze is especially difficult on the Santa Barbara-Ventura County line, where the terrain is steep and rugged, said Kruschke, the Ventura County fire official. Fire officials hope to get as many as a dozen helicopters in the air Thursday, but the winds have been playing havoc on the choppers and fixed-wing aircraft, he said.

Thursday afternoon, in the eerie, sepia-colored haze, firefighters could be seen setting a back fire on the northwest flank of the Thomas Fire. Well before sundown, the back fires added more smoke but seemed to help hold a fire line built in a canyon on the county line.

The Thomas Fire grew significantly Thursday to about 180 square miles and was only 5% contained. The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County is about 20% contained. The Rye Fire in Santa Clarita is holding at 7,000 acres, with 25% containment, while the Skirball Fire has burned about 475 acres and is 20% contained.

As of Thursday, the Thomas Fire had destroyed 73 residences, three commercial structures and 15 outbuildings, Cal Fire said, emphasizing that the numbers are likely to rise once officials are in a better position to assess the damage.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
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