Wildfires Burn Homes, Close Freeways in Southern California

Thomas Lauder  Los Angeles Times

Thomas Lauder Los Angeles Times

The winds continued to blow Tuesday as Tovey, the city of Ventura electrical inspector, patrolled the perimeter of the Thomas Fire in his city vehicle, turning back residents trying to reach their homes.

The high Santa Ana winds are predicted to last through the week, and are blowing embers across the landscape in all directions. The fire injured two people, one critically, and forced closure of northbound Interstate 215, said Eric Sherwin, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Another fire, known as the Rye Fire, threatened more than 5,000 homes and structures northwest of Los Angeles.

No major institution so far has said it has incurred damage, but, as of midday, more than 150 buildings and homes have been destroyed in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, and almost 12,000 more buildings are potentially threatened by four fires threatening various areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

In Bel-Air, that's exactly what they did.

In what may have been an early sign of the 140-square-mile fire getting new life, several thousand new evacuations were ordered Wednesday night in Ojai, a town of artists and resorts.

Police knocked on doors and used loudspeakers to make sure everybody left their mansions.

"If the winds pick up, we will face quite a challenge". He put his camera and his dogs in his vintage burgundy auto and left the home where he has lived for several years, its fate uncertain.

It has now burned through 11,377 acres, and is five percent contained, Garcetti said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Among those evacuated was model Chrissy Teigen, wife of singer John Legend. Cal Fire investigators are exploring whether PG&E's lines sparked any of the fires that tore through the North Bay in October, killing 44 people.

"We are fine and we will be fine. thinking of everyone else affected and continuing my lifelong intense love of firefighters", she added.

The "Skirball" fire - near a cultural center of the same name - also prompted authorities to close the 405 Freeway, a major commuting corridor.

The Getty arts institution - home to masterpieces including works by Edouard Manet - was closed until at least Thursday.

Dozens of schools were closed, as was Santa Monica College.

Around 30,000 people live in Santa Paula, while Ventura has a population of about 110,000.

California utility companies can be held financially liable for wildfire damage linked to their equipment, even if they followed all applicable safety rules.

Erik Oberholtzer, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based chain Tender Greens, said no restaurants were impacted on Wednesday, but that he was concerned for the chain's partner farms in Ventura County, where the burn zone remained out of control Wednesday.

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