LOS ANGELES – The wildfires ravaging Southern California remained untamed on Monday as the area devastated by the flames grew to more than 93,000 hectares (256,000 acres) and the number of people forced from their homes approached 100,000.
The largest blaze, the Thomas fire, broke out Dec. 4 in Ventura County and has since expanded into Santa Barbara County, scorching an area larger than the cities of New York and Boston combined.
As of Monday, the Thomas fire was only 15 percent contained and the flames were creeping closer to the coastal towns of Carpinteria and Montecito, the latter home to celebrities such as Jeff Bridges, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted about evacuating with her pets.
The weather forecast offers little reason for optimism, with the outlook calling for continued dry weather and the persistence of fierce Santa Ana winds.
Some 9,000 firefighters are battling the blazes that extend southward to Los Angeles and San Diego.
This year’s wildfires have been the worst on record in California. The blazes that swept through the heart of the state’s wine country in October left 44 people dead and destroyed nearly 8,900 structures.
US President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for California last Friday to enable federal agencies to assist in fighting the fires.