December 7, 2017 2:32 pm
Updated: December 7, 2017 4:25 pm

These images show just how intense the devastating California fires really are

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At least four major wildfires are burning out of control in the Los Angeles area, forcing nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes.

Authorities feared the fires would be whipped up by the region’s notorious westward Santa Ana winds that could reach hurricane strength.

The fires, which broke out on Monday and Tuesday, have reached into the wealthy enclave of Bel-Air on Los Angeles’ West Side while creating traffic nightmares in the densely populated area.

WATCH: Frantic man stops on highway, rescues wild rabbit from flames

Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires. Air from high pressure areas blows down toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up, drying out as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons. In northern California, the same wind effect is known as Diablo winds.

According to Cal Fire, the Creek Fire burning in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles remains only five per cent contained and has torched over 5,000 hectares and has destroyed at least 30 homes.

WATCH: Video coverage of devastating California wildfires


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Northwest of Los Angeles, the Rye Fire has burned through nearly 3,000 hectares and remains only 10 per cent contained.

READ MORE: Relentless Santa Ana winds continue to fan devastating California wildfires

The Skirball Fire, flared up early Wednesday in the Bel Air neighbourhood and has torched about 200 hectares and remains only five per cent contained.

The largest of the four, the Thomas Fire, has burned over 36,000 hectares and destroyed 150 structures. The blaze remains only five per cent contained.

Videos and photos show towering flames covering California’s famed foothills along major highways and roadways, the fires continued to burn Thursday.

A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

A wildfire burns along the 101 Freeway Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Ventura, Calif.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A Los Angeles County firefighter prepares to battle a hot spot on the Creek Fire in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

A man watches flames consume a residence as a wildfire rages in Ventura, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

Flames consume a home on Via Arroyo as a wildfire rages in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

Smoke rises behind a levelled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

A weather vane is pictured on a ranch during the Creek Fire in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, in Sylmar, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

Firefighters battle to save one of many homes burning in an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Gene Blevins

A firefighter sprays water on the remains of the Hawaiian Village apartments after a wind-driven wildfire swept into the city of Ventura, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Mike Blake

Local neighbours put out hot spots from the heavy winds that started an early-morning Creek Fire in the San Fernando Valley, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Gene Blevins

A horse which was left behind after an early-morning Creek Fire is seen in Sylmar, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Gene Blevins

A man prays during an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Gene Blevins

A fire crew passes a burning home during a wind-driven wildfire in Ventura, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Mike Blake

A firefighter inspects a burning home during a wind-driven wildfire in Ventura, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Mike Blake

The remains of a home are seen after it burned to the ground during a wind-driven wildfire in Ventura, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Mike Blake

Firefighters battle flames from a Santa Ana wind-driven brush fire dubbed the Thomas Fire in Santa Paula, California, December 4, 2017.

Reuters /Gene Blevins

Emergency crews block a roadway as flames spread from a Santa Ana wind-driven brush fire dubbed the Thomas Fire near Ventura, California, December 5, 2017.

Reuters/Gene Blevins

Smoke rises into the night sky as strong winds push the Thomas Fire across thousands of acres near Santa Paula, California, December 4, 2017.

Reuters/David McNew

A firefighter battles a wildfire in Ojai, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

Two firefighters watch as a home burns in a wildfire in La Conchita, Calif. on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Flames from the Thomas fire burn above a truck on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

AP Photo/Noah Berger

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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