LOS ANGELES – California state governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Tuesday night in Ventura County as destructive wildfires rage in that southern part of the state, according to the governor’s website.
The fires, referred to as a whole as the Thomas Fire, have destroyed hundreds of homes and triggered the evacuation of thousands of residents. There was also an unconfirmed report of one death.
Some 50,000 acres of land have been engulfed by the fires, with more than 1,000 firefighters struggling to contain the spreading blazes, according to the Ventura County Fire Department and the CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Department.
The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District warned in a tweet of the fire’s smoke effects, with visibility hampered due to smoke and dust, and air quality “considered unhealthy in areas directly impacted by smoke.”
Almost all K-12 schools in Ventura County will be closed on Wednesday because of the fires, the county’s Office of Education announced on Twitter.
The fast-moving blaze began Monday evening outside Santa Paula, a town northwest of Los Angeles, and had spread to the coastal city of Ventura – home to around 100,000 people – by 4 am Tuesday morning.
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a press conference that one person died in a traffic accident while trying to flee the fire, though that has yet to be confirmed.
At least one firefighter was injured while trying to contain the blaze, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Lorenzen told reporters early Tuesday. “Really Mother Nature is going to decide whether we have the ability to put it out because it is pushing hard.”