December 5, 2017 7:11 am
Updated: December 5, 2017 8:03 pm

Massive Southern California wildfire forces thousands to flee from homes

WATCH ABOVE: Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire that prompted evacuation orders for nearly 8,000 homes, authorities said.

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A wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California has scorched 48 square miles, destroyed 150 structures and left one firefighter injured, and officials say winds are increasing.

The blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It grew wildly to more than 103 sq. kilometers in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said.

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By early Tuesday, more than 27,000 people have been evacuated. It wasn’t clear if the structures burned were homes or businesses. There was no immediate word on the extent of the firefighter’s
injury.

Earlier, evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

WATCH: Authorities provide update on southern California wildfire

 

“The fire growth is just absolutely exponential,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. “All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures.”

 

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.

LISTEN: Calgary Today has an update from a reporter in Ventura County

One person was killed in an auto accident associated with the fire, officials said. They gave no further details.

At least two structures have burned so far, sheriff’s officials said.

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Winds exceeding 40 mph and gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue, the National Weather Service said.

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Firefighters from neighboring Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties were pouring in to help.

Nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without power, Southern California Edison said on Twitter.

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All schools in the Ventura Unified School District will be closed on Tuesday.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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