Evacuations in California as wildfires flare out of control

Evacuations in California as wildfires flare out of control

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.

One person died in a auto crash trying to evacuate the fire that first broke out Monday night.

Fire officials say the fire broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Most of the evacuated homes were in that city.

The blaze was being driven by what the National Weather Service called "potentially the strongest and longest duration" Santa Ana wind event of the current season.

Authorities said that the city of Ventura, which is 12 miles southwest and has 106,000 residents, was likely to feel the effects soon.

"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential", the Ventura county fire chief, Mark Lorenzen, said.

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So far, two buildings have been destroyed and thousands more are without power, according to reports.

As firefighters battle high winds to control a 70-square-mile wildfire in Ventura County on Tuesday, they're getting assistance from multiple Orange County agencies.

Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated, with students going to their own homes or to those of faculty and staff, the college said in a statement.

Four helicopters were making water drops to fight the fire but by 9:30 p.m. local time but were grounded after conditions were deemed unsafe for them to fly at night.

"A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are expected", the weather service said.

Los Angeles County firefighters will send a strike team to the Malibu area Monday morning, putting five fire engines and about 25 firefighters into the heart of the fire-prone Santa Monica Mountains.

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