Los Padres Wildfire Burns Through Southern California

Weekend storms could be a mixed blessing for crews battling California’s largest wildfire, though officials say it looks like Santa Ana winds that fanned the flames on the northern edge of the state have…

Los Padres Wildfire Burns Through Southern California

Weekend storms could be a mixed blessing for crews battling California’s largest wildfire, though officials say it looks like Santa Ana winds that fanned the flames on the northern edge of the state have begun to diminish.

Wildfire authorities said Thursday that they still expected a large area of the southern Los Padres National Forest to remain closed through the weekend, while a wildfire in the San Gabriel Mountains prompted evacuations in a neighboring county.

Wildfire officials are concerned that winds of up to 50 mile-per-hour could push flames closer to nearby structures. Officials are also worried about erosion from the high winds, which some have said could make it difficult for emergency crews to reach the fire.

About 45,878 acres had burned through Thursday.

“It’s been very, very wet everywhere. The fire is just now starting to burn on the southern edge,” said Mike Anderson, the fire’s incident management officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire was moving in a northerly direction with its southern half toward San Diego County and the city of Ridgecrest, where homes and a hospital were under evacuation orders, Anderson said.

In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “Now is not the time to give up or be discouraged, but instead to put the lessons learned into action and to continue the fight.”

An estimated 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes as the blaze grew.

“It’s a matter of saving lives, and that’s important,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Authorities have declared a disaster area to help evacuate residents.

Santa Ana winds, the most powerful in Southern California, have intensified over the past week, and Santa Anas typically bring heavy rain and strong winds.

Authorities are hoping to get more resources to battle the flames because at least two dozen aircraft have been turned away, leaving firefighters with just two air tanker trucks, Whitmore said.

“We’re a little short, but I’m going to keep plugging away,” he said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for both Los Angeles and Riverside counties after a wildfire devoured nearly a dozen homes, leveled a hilltop

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