Several wildfires in Southern California continued to blaze out of control into Wednesday morning, as firefighters reported “zero containment” on the Thomas fire near Ventura and the Creek fire near Sylmar in Los Angeles.
Images taken from space by NASA show long plumes of smoke, driven by unusually strong and steady Santa Ana winds, reaching out over part of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and hundreds of miles out over the Pacific Ocean.
Over 180 structures have been destroyed, according to the Los Angeles Times, and over 50,000 acres have been burned, with tens of thousands evacuated. Governor Jerry Brown declared states of emergency for the affected areas on Tuesday. Many fire hydrants failed to function because power outages damaged their pumping mechanisms. Schools were closed dozens of miles away because of the acrid presence of smoke.
Still, miraculously, there have been no fatalities thus far in the blazes.
Wildfires have been unusually intense this year in California, and both the five-year drought and last year’s rainy season are to blame. The drought created dry conditions that have not been completely alleviated, while the large amount of rain caused new vegetation to sprout, creating more quick-burning fuel for high-wind-driven blazes.
One of the only things helping to contain the fires in Ventura County at the moment is the fact that the Thomas blaze is running out of land to consume. It crossed the 101 Freeway on Tuesday and reached the Pacific Ocean, where there is obviously nothing more to burn.
But as long as Santa Ana winds continue to blow through Thursday, the destructive wildfires will continue to rage.