“We are not letting our guard down”: Southern California under siege from wildfires

SHADOW HILLS, Calif. — The Shadow Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles is the scene of one of six major wildfires burning out of control tonight in Southern California, CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor reports. The first death has been reported. The burned body of a woman was found next to her flipped-over car in Ventura County.

The fires, driven by powerful Santa Ana winds, have now burned more than 116,000 acres — and there appears to be no end in sight. More than 100 homes have been destroyed or damaged, and at least 330,000 people have been evacuated.

Southern California remains under siege. Throughout the night, firefighters in Ventura County battled enormous walls of flames.
The flames consumed trees and brush on the 101 earlier Thursday and for stretches shut down one of the busiest freeways in America. The worst of it, as we saw, was in Faria Beach. 

You can get a sense of the intensity of the winds up in the air, Glor reported from a helicopter. When the gusts move through, they can pick up embers from one fire and start a new one. Those embers can be carried for miles. 

The Thomas Fire, the biggest of the six major fires, has burned 96,000 acres and is only 5 percent contained.

The latest, in San Diego, spread quickly. 

The fires in southern Califorina on Dec. 7, 2017.

CBS News

“Any time we have erratic winds like this, we are never out of danger,” said Rich Macklin, with the Ventura County Fire Department. “We are not letting our guard down. Firefighters are still down the street here, working on structure protection.”

The challenge for firefighters is getting a handle on the steep, dry terrain that acts as fuel. 

There are the starter fires, and although the wind is calm right now, the concern is that if — and when — that wind picks back up, the smaller fires becomes a far more serious situation.   

A firefighters tries battle wildfires in Ventura County, Calif. on…

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