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Thomas Fire in Ventura approaches Ojai, grows to 90,000 acres

Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside near the Springs of Life Church in Casitas Springs, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside near the Springs of Life Church in Casitas Springs, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.
Noah Berger/AP

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The largest and most destructive wildfire burning in Southern California expanded to 90,000 acres by Wednesday. Tuesday evening it jumped U.S. Highway 101, and by Wednesday morning it had nearly reached the ocean and forced new evacuations.

The fire is continuing to spread rapidly, Ventura County officials reported Wednesday night. It is established north and east of Highway 150, west of Highway 33 and north to the 101. A curfew is now in place for the City of Ventura from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

In the first 24 hours of the fire, firefighters evacuated more than 50,000 people from 15,000 homes, officials say. 150 structures have been destroyed. CalFire officials said during a Wednesday evening press conference that the fire is likely to grow in the coming day due to high winds. A Red Flag warning remains in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday.

Homes stand along the beach as the sun is visible through thick smoke from a wildfire Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Ventura, Calif.
Homes stand along the beach as the sun is visible through thick smoke from a wildfire Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Ventura, Calif.
Jae C. Hong/AP

 

 

 

 

Areas northeast of Ojai have seen the most fire growth since Wednesday morning, officials told reporters. Authorities say they are conducting damage assessments in the area to determine how many homes have been damaged.

Fire officials had said Tuesday that keeping the fire north of the major highway linking coastal California cities was one of their objectives.

However, the flames crossed the 101 around 8 p.m. Tuesday at the rocky and sparsely populated Solimar beach, which is northwest of the densely populated city Ventura.

A wildfire threatens homes as it burns along the 101 freeway on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in Ventura, California. Fueled by ferocious Santa Ana winds, the fire burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of homes and other structures.
A wildfire threatens homes as it burns along the 101 freeway on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in Ventura, California. Fueled by ferocious Santa Ana winds, the fire burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of homes and other structures.
Jae C. Hong/AP

While people in the area had to evacuate, state fire officials say the lack of vegetation softens the blow of the fire crossing the highway.

Not all residents have heeded the Thomas Fire evacuation orders. Early Wednesday morning, there were still cars parked at a mobile park home in a rural area in Santa Paula that was told to evacuate Monday night.

About 10 single wide mobile homes burned in a trailer park in Wheeler Canyon in the Santa Paula area. Dozens more homes were saved as the Thomas Fire grew to 65,000 acres Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
About 10 single wide mobile homes burned in a trailer park in Wheeler Canyon in the Santa Paula area. Dozens more homes were saved as the Thomas Fire grew to 65,000 acres Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

 

As wind-driven fires race through California for the second time in two months, hundreds of homes are feared lost and tens of thousands of people have been uprooted.

Officials have issued a boil water order for Upper Ojai Valley, Casitas Springs, Foster Park and the entire City of Ventura "due to loss of pressure and water supply from the fire related power outages." 

"All tap water used for drinking and cooking should be boiled to a rolling boil for approximately one minute. This is the preferred method to ensure water is safe to drink," according to the latest incident update from Ventura County. 

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President Donald Trump said his thoughts and prayers "are with everyone" in the path of California's latest wildfires.

Trump in a tweet also encouraged everyone "to heed the advice and orders of local and state officials" and thanking first responders for their "incredible work!"

Several of the ten mobile home trailers that burned in the Thomas Fire in the Santa Paula area are seen early Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Several of the ten mobile home trailers that burned in the Thomas Fire in the Santa Paula area are seen early Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

EVACUATIONS

CalFire has shared the following evacuation information:

MANDATORY:

The glow of a wildfire as it burns in Ventura, California on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The Thomas Fire forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
The glow of a wildfire as it burns in Ventura, California on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The Thomas Fire forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
Jae C. Hong/AP

VOLUNTARY:

SHELTERS:

CalTrans supervisor Alvaro Magana at the point where Highway 150 becomes impassable due to burned and downed power lines, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
CalTrans supervisor Alvaro Magana at the point where Highway 150 becomes impassable due to burned and downed power lines, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

SCHOOL CLOSURES

The following districts will be closed the rest of the week:

The following Schools are planning to re-open Thursday: 

The Thomas Fire burned the main office at the KOA Ventura Ranch Campground near Steckel Park.
The Thomas Fire burned the main office at the KOA Ventura Ranch Campground near Steckel Park.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

ROAD CLOSURES

Hard Closures (meaning only public safety personnel will have access to them)

The Nye Road loop east of Highway 33 is also closed, but Highway 33 and Highway 101 are now open in both directions, according to the City of Ventura's latest incident report.

ASK US YOUR QUESTIONS

KPCC journalists are covering the fires burning across Southern California and are working hard to answer community members' questions. Let us know what you need to know below.