By Rob Kuznia, Mark Berman, Max Ufberg, and Soo Youn
10 December 2017

VENTURA, California (The Washington Post) – Raging wildfires continued to burn through Southern California on Sunday, stretching into a second week as authorities warned that the blazes could still spread and pose new dangers.

The fires have been blamed for one death, and the flames have destroyed more than 800 buildings and threatened thousands more. Officials have stressed that the weather could trigger still more hazards.

Much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties were under “red flag warnings” of increased fire risk through Sunday evening as the winds that fanned the flames were expected to strengthen. Any new blaze could see a “very rapid spread of wildfire … and extreme fire behavior that could lead to a threat to life and property,” the National Weather Service warned.

Officials lamented a brutal fire season that has ravaged the state this year, tearing mercilessly through the northern and southern parts of California alike.

“This is kind of the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said at a news conference Saturday in Ventura County. “We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods and, of course, billions and billions of dollars.”

Brown said climate change means residents should expect such extreme fire activity for decades.

“I know that’s maybe a little remote, but it’s real, and we’re experiencing what it’s going to look like on a very regular basis,” he said.

New evacuations orders were issued Sunday as the Thomas Fire — the state’s biggest active blaze, roaring across 155,000 acres in coastal Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles — was “expected to spread” toward neighboring Santa Barbara County, authorities warned in an alert Sunday morning.

The Thomas Fire burns in the Los Padres National Forest on Saturday, 9 December 2017. The fire has burned more than 155,000 acres and was 15 percent contained Sunday morning. Photo: Stuart Palley / The Washington Post

Although officials had lifted evacuation orders in Ventura, south of the fire, residents of enclaves in Santa Barbara were urged to leave. People in parts of the county, including the city of Carpinteria, “need to be prepared to leave in a moment’s notice,” the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office warned, urging residents to gather relatives, pets and anything irreplaceable. […]

“Oh, my God, the heat, the heat,” said Clifford Sise, a horse trainer who had to evacuate while trying to get his horses out of San Luis Rey Downs, a racehorse facility in San Diego County where it is believed that dozens of horses died in the blaze. “One of my fillies wouldn’t leave. She burned to death in, like, one minute. I had them all out, and then when I went back after. I must’ve had two little babies run back in their stalls and they died.” [more]

California fires rage into second week as massive blazes are ‘expected to spread’

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