Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Several wildfires are burning statewide in California Friday, authorities said -- including one that has displaced 40,000 Los Angeles-area residents.
Officials are fighting and monitoring at least nine fires. Northern California crews are fighting the Kincade, Cabrillo, Nelson and Muir Fires, and Southern California personnel are dealing with the Saddle Ridge, Tick, Old Water, Oak and Palisades Fires.
The largest of the group is the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, near San Francisco. It has so far burned 22,000 acres and is just 5 percent contained.
The Tick Fire in Los Angeles County has burned just 4,300 acres, but its proximity to large population clusters has led authorities to evacuate 40,000 residents. Strong winds in the region are making the fire, which is just 5 percent contained, difficult to fight.
"The erratic winds today pose a challenge to our firefighters as they may change direction and intensify, posing a great threat to homes," county officials said Friday.
More than 500 firefighters, 100 engines, six helicopters and four air tankers are fighting the flames. One chopper was grounded after a bird strike cracked its windshield.
All schools in the San Fernando Valley were closed Friday due to resulting air quality and safety concerns. The district was previously criticized for not responding fast enough to the Saddle Ridge Fire, which is now almost fully under control. Numerous other high schools and colleges were closed Friday due to similar concerns.
Pacific Gas & Electric, California's largest utility, has conducted pre-emptive power blackouts statewide in recent weeks in a bid to mitigate fire risk. Millions of people have been affected by the widespread loss of power. The company was blamed for last year's Camp Fire, the deadliest in California history, and said PG&E equipment might also have contributed to the Kincade Fire.