As Monday night turned into Tuesday morning, two separate wildfires spread around Los Angeles. Here's what's going on:
Wait, there were two fires?
Yes. The bigger, more devastating fire (called the Thomas fire) started just before 6:30 p.m. Monday night outside the city of Santa Paula, in Ventura County. That's about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The cause of that fire is so far unknown.
The second, smaller fire started early Tuesday morning at the northern edge of L.A. It is being called the Creek fire.
How bad were they?
Pretty bad. So far, no people have been killed, though a firefighter has been injured and one dead dog was found in an abandoned, overturned vehicle. But the Thomas fire has caused around 27,000 evacuations, destroyed 150 buildings (including a large apartment complex and an entire psychiatric hospital), and burned about 45,000 acres. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 180,000 people lost power. The governor has declared a state of emergency in all of Ventura County.
The Creek fire has spread to about 4,000 acres so far, and around 2,500 houses were evacuated, mostly in parts of Sylmar and Lake View Terrace.
How long will they burn?
While some of the fire is contained, large portions of it are not. Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen gave a rather grim assessment to reporters. "The prospects for containment aren’t good," he said. "Really, mother nature is going to decide if we have the ability to put it out." It looks to be days before the fires will be out for good.
Why are they so bad?
Basically, the weather.
The city is under what are called "red flag" conditions, meaning that it's great fire-spreading weather. The Santa Ana winds are the main culprit here. They are blowing stronger than they have all season, averaging around 40 mph with gusts as high as 70.
What happens now?
Basically, folks will continue to fight the fire, hope for a break in the winds, and hope for the best. The state is sending over resources (Ventura County officials are asking for planes). A grant from FEMA also came through.
There are about 600 people (400 firefighters and 200 cops) fighting the Creek fire, and over 1,000 firefighters attempting to battle the Thomas fire. Make sure to check here for live updates.