California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

Brush fire explodes near Santa Paula CA

A fast-moving wildfire has prompted evacuation orders for almost 8000 homes in southern California, which has killed one person in a related road accident. But the Santa Ana winds could persist into Friday or Saturday, which would likely mean an extension of both warnings.

Audio will be available later today.

Firefighters from the Alameda County Fire Department are on their way to Southern California to help crews battle a vicious, fast-moving wildfire.

Now it is threatening the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura, officials say.

Massive fire burns out of control in Southern CaliforniaA smaller fire erupted on the northern edge of Los Angeles, threatening the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods, where residents scrambled to get out. Most of the evacuated homes were in that city.

The Ventura Country Fire Department in California posted this image of the Thomas Fire pushing its way toward East Ventura late Monday

"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. More than 27,000 people were evacuated and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.

At least two structures have already burned and power outages have been reported across the county. Thomas Aquinas College, which about 350 students attend, has also been evacuated.

Ventura County officials said about 500 firefighters were now battling the blaze, known as the Thomas Fire, and more were being deployed.

Four helicopters were making water drops to fight the fire but by 9:30 p.m. local time but were grounded after conditions were deemed unsafe for them to fly at night.

The Southern California Edison power company said about 263,000 customers were without electricity in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties as of early Tuesday morning, after the fire torched a key supply line in the region.

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