California fire: Hero firefighters tackling the blazes
The four wildfires have wreaked devastation across Southern California – with one blaze estimated to be the same size as Denver as it continues to spread towards Los Angeles.
Around 5,000 firefighters – half of them assigned to Thomas Fire, the biggest of the four – have been racing across hillsides as they fight the blaze, officials said.
Astonishing photos show as the brave heroes try to tackle the huge flame single-handedly, clutching at their hoses in a desperate attempt to quell the fires raging across the region.
The flames appear to be several metres high as the fire crews stand their ground, coming face to face with the terrifying wall of fire.
The operation is wearing on the firefighters and military personnel as they work nonstop to douse the flames.
On top of exhaustion from the long hours, they are also trying to stave off the effects of smoke inhalation and the airborne embers irritating their eyes.
Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said: “Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they’re taking a beating, too, but they’re cooperating with our orders.”
California’s National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing out of Oxnard has also joined the fight, even though roughly 50 of the Guardsmen involved had to be evacuated themselves, according to spokeswoman Maj. Kimberly Holman.
Some 5,000 firefighters are tackling the blazes in California
Fires have spread over more than 100,000 acres
Thomas, Creek, Rye and Skirball fires have consumed about 116,000 acres
Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said, before adding: “We have folks who lost their homes and many who were evacuated and still they did their duty and worked to help their community.”
At 96,000 acres, the Thomas Fire is now roughly the size of Colorado’s capital and is continue to spread – with the blaze thought to be just five per cent contained.
It could go down as one of the most destructive fires in state history after it spread more than 31,000 acres in just nine hours – roughly an acre a second.
Together the four fires, Thomas, Creek, Rye and Skirball, have consumed about 116,000 acres, according to the state fire summary.
Hundreds of schools have been forced to close their doors as raging wildfires wreaked havoc on Southern California, forcing about 200,000 people to flee for their safety.
Almost 250,000 homes are without power and huge swathes of highways have been shut down as officials try to slow the path of the flames.
And merciless winds, predicted to reach the strength of a Category 1 hurricane in mountainous areas, are threatening to intensify the already devastating fires.
The hot, dry Santa Ana winds are expected to whip up the flames in the four areas – known as the Thomas fire, the Rye fire, the Creek fie and the Skirball fire.
Red flag warnings have been extended across much of Southern California through Saturday, while high winds warnings are in effect for mountains and valleys in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Thomas Fire is now roughly the size of Colorado’s capital
More than 2,000 firefighters have been assigned to Thomas Fire
Images from the region show as the flames race down the mountainside, akin to lava.
CBSLA’s Crystal Cruz said: “We’ve been hearing sparks and loud booms and we think it’s power lines or transformers that have caught fire and blasted off.
“The fire was on top of the hillside and now it’s much closer, huge flames ripping down the mountain, sending smoke and flames west.
“It almost looks like a volcano erupted with lava flowing down the hill.”