‘There’s no stopping it’: California braces for high winds as wildfires continue path of destruction and inferno forces hundreds of thousands to flee

Saturday, December 9, 2017
By Paul Martin

Fire crews brace for high winds that are expected to whip Southern California wildfires Saturday night
Winds expected to gusts up to 40mph Saturday and up to 50mph Sunday in the Los Angeles area
Six fires have destroyed more than 500 buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced 212,000 to evacuate
First fire-related death confirmed on Friday after woman was found dead in crash along evacuation route
California Governor Jerry Brown will survey the destruction in inferno-ravaged areas on Saturday

9 December 2017

Fire crews in Southern California are rushing to contain devastating wildfires, with dry desert winds expected to intensify over the weekend.

High winds are expected Saturday night. Over the past week, six major wildfires have killed at least one person, destroyed hundreds of buildings, forced more than 200,000 people to flee and choked the air across much of the region.

California Governor Jerry Brown will survey the destruction of the state’s devastating wildfires on Saturday.
Forecasters predict wind gusts to become more intense by Saturday night, challenging the 8,700 firefighters who have been battling the fast-moving blazes for five days.

‘As we know, when a tornado hits the Midwest, there’s no stopping it. When a hurricane hits the East Coast, there’s no stopping it. When Santa Ana winds come in, there’s no stopping them,’ said Captain Kendal Bortisser of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

Firefighters gained ground Friday, and some of the earliest evacuees who fled from flames Monday were being allowed to return home.

Yet new fires were popping up, and danger persisted. The vegetation is bone dry, and there’s been hardly any rainfall.

Winds were expected to gusts up to 40mph Saturday and up to 50mph Sunday in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas, the National Weather Service said.

The winds ‘potentially put the fires that are currently burning at risk of spreading,’ said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for CAL FIRE.

Brown plans to meet at noon with residents and officials in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, where officials said the largest of the blazes, the Thomas Fire, has charred 148,000 acres and destroyed 537 structures.

‘We’re going to recover. Have no doubt about that,’ the governor said on Twitter on Friday.

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