Strong Winds Complicate California Wildfire Fight

December 07, 2017

Authorities in southern California warned of extreme fire conditions Thursday with dry air fanned by strong winds complicating efforts to battle multiple fires that broke out this week near Los Angeles.

"Let me be clear, no amount of resources can keep up with the predicted conditions," said CAL Fire Director Ken Pimlott.

With wind gusts of up to 145 kilometers per hour expected to continue through Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby warned people to remain alert as he and other officials urged the public to evacuate at the first sign of danger.

As of early Thursday, four wildfires were burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The biggest is the Thomas Fire, about 90 kilometers northwest of the city of Los Angeles, which has burned more than 40,000 hectares and destroyed 150 buildings.

The newest to spark Wednesday was in the upscale Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. That fire temporarily shut down several highways and the Getty Center art complex was closed to protect the art collection from smoke damage. A fire in 1961 burned 500 homes in the tony neighborhood, some belonging to Hollywood stars.

Several hundreds Los Angeles schools are closed Thursday.

Fires are not uncommon in Southern California this time of year before the winter rains set in, when the vegetation is tinder dry and winds blast the region.

2017 has been a particularly bad year for California fires. Just weeks ago, wildfires that broke out in Northern California killed 44 people and destroyed 8,900 homes and other buildings.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Tuesday wildfires have burned more than 400,000 hectares so far this year. The data does not take into account the fires currently burning.

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