Oct 13, 2019

Deadly Southern California wildfires force thousands to evacuate

An aircraft drops fire retardant along a ridge in Newhall, California on Friday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

At least 3 people have died in wildfires driven by gusty winds in Southern California, where up to 100,000 people were at one point under mandatory evacuation orders, authorities said Saturday, per NBC News.

The big picture: The remains of 2 victims were found in the razed Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park in the Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa, east of Los Angeles, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department tweeted.

  • The Sandalwood blaze began Thursday when a trash truck "dumped a load of burning trash" that spread to vegetation, destroying at least 90 structures, the Riverside County Fire Department said in a statement.
  • In L.A., a man had a heart attack while fighting a fire and later died, AP reports.
  • All evacuation orders in Los Angeles were lifted Saturday evening, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement, after the largest blaze in Southern California, the Saddleridge Fire, "moved away from neighborhoods and into hillsides," per CNN.
  • The Saddleridge Fire was 19% contained Saturday evening, but wind conditions were expected to ease in the evening, the fire department said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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California wildfires: What you need to know

A firefighter controls a hotspot of the Maria Fire in Ventura County, Calif., on Saturday. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

California firefighters are winning the fight against a series of wildfires in the state, with official figures showing most blazes at least 75% contained and several others fully contained or extinguished by Tuesday night. But authorities warn the fire danger isn't over yet.

What's new: A new report warns the fire season could continue through December. Firefighters were dealing with a new fire in a remote area of Lake County, near Clearlake. CalFire said the blaze, named the Eagle Fire, had burned 75 acres and was 56% contained by Tuesday evening.

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At least 58,000 acres have burned in California from 14 ongoing fires, the earliest of which sparked in September, the Los Angeles Times reports. Five of those fires started Thursday, and one began Friday.

What's happening: The Kincade fire, which started Thursday and has already blazed through 21,900 acres — namely in Northern California’s wine country — is currently the largest fire in the state. 50,000 people near the Tick fire in Santa Clarita were ordered to evacuate on Friday, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the counties affected by those two wildfires.

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California fire season could last until December

A firefighter douses flames from a backfire during the Maria Fire in Santa Paula, California, on Nov. 1. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California could continue to endure wildfires until December as a late start to the rainy season looks increasingly likely — particularly in the south of the state, the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center warns in a new report.

This may be a long fall and winter across California for both the fire-fighting community and the general public in terms of coping with the threat of fires."
Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019