A massive California wildfire that has already destroyed nearly 800 structures scorched another 56,000 acres on Sunday, making it the fifth largest such blaze in recorded state history, as it ran toward picturesque coastal cities.
Crews with help from a fleet of water-dropping planes and helicopters saved homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze deeper into residential foothill areas northwest of Los Angeles that haven't burned in decades
"This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told an evening press conference.
Still, some 5,000 residents remained under evacuation orders in the two communities, near Santa Barbara and about 160 km northwest of Los Angeles. Some 15,000 homes were considered threatened.
The Thomas Fire, the worst of six major blazes in Southern California in the last week and already the fifth largest in the state since 1932, has blackened 230,000 acres (570,000 hectares), more than the area of New York City. It has destroyed 790 houses, outbuildings and other structures, and left 90,000 homes and businesses without power.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
In pictures: California's Thomas fire rages towards coastal cities
Vehicles pass beside a wall of flames on the 101 highway as it reaches the coast during the Thomas wildfire near Ventura on December 6, 2017. © Mark Ralston, AFP
A helicopter drops water over the Moraga Estate, the only working winery in Bel Air and home to Rupert Murdoch, on December 6, 2017, in Los Angeles. © Frederic J. Brown, AFP
Local residents Aaron Cohen and Tammy Hanna hug during the wildfire in Ventura on December 5, 2017. © Mark Ralston, AFP
Trees are seen through the haze at the burnt-out Vista del Mar Hospital after the fire swept through Ventura on December 6, 2017. © Mark Ralston, AFP
Firefighters battle a wildfire as it burns along a hillside near homes in Santa Paula on December 5, 2017. © Ringo Chiu, AFP
Smoke from the Skirball Fire rises above the 405 freeway near the Bel Air area of Los Angeles on December 6, 2017. © Robyn Beck, AFP
Date created : 2017-12-11