1 dead as 27,000 evacuate wildfires in Southern California

By Sara Shayanian  |  Updated Dec. 5, 2017 at 9:24 PM
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Dec. 5 (UPI) -- One person has been killed and 27,000 are being forced to evacuate their homes as fast-moving wildfires torch Southern California.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Ventura County on Tuesday as the brushfires swept through the area.

"This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we'll continue to attack it with all we've got," Brown said. "It's critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so."

The Thomas fire in Ventura County -- the first fire -- started last night and quickly grew. The second blaze, the Creek fire, started at 4 a.m. near Sylmar.

Authorities say the fires have burned through more than 50,000 acres of land in the city of Ventura by Tuesday and has destroyed 150 structures.

Officials said at least one death in Ventura County has been reported, from an automobile crash that occurred as the victim tried to evacuate.

One firefighter was hit by a car while protecting a home. He is being held at a hospital for evaluation.

Firefighters are confronted by 50 mph winds that, accompanied with the intensity of the blaze, could make it difficult to contain.

"The prospects for containment are not good," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. "Really, mother nature is going to decide."

"We urge you, you must abide by these evacuation notices," Ventura County Sheriff Jeff Dean said on Monday. "We saw the disasters and the losses that happened up north in Sonoma and this is a fast, very dangerous moving fire."

"As far as getting ahead of the fire, that's exactly what we're doing right now, but it's in defense of structure and property right now, not actually trying to put the fire out," Lorenzen said.

More than 1000 firefighters are fighting the blaze with zero containment so far.

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