Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Mismanagement of forests to blame for California fires

Mismanagement of forests to blame for California fires

Evacuations are now under way, with tens of thousands of people having already been forced to flee their homes, and hot and dry weather conditions are exacerbating the problem.

Mark Ghilarducci said the number of deaths was not known.

Highway 101 is now open in both directions in Ventura County, but is closed farther south in Los Angeles County due to the Woolsey Fire burning near the border between the two counties.

Why are the fires spreading so fast?

Mayor and firefighter Rick Mullen surveys a house on fire in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire continues its path to the coast.

In Southern California, the Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire raging through the Santa Monica Mountains was headed to the ocean.

At midday on Friday local time, it covered about 5665 hectares.

The blaze erupted Thursday afternoon in Simi Valley, northeast of Thousand Oaks, not far from where a gunman shot dead 12 people in a mass shooting Wednesday night, spreading quickly, propelled by 70 miles per hour winds.

Almost 800 kilometres to the south, a second blaze forced the evacuation of the upscale oceanside city of Malibu and threatened the beleaguered town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people this week in a rampage in a bar and dance hall.

The singer Lady Gaga said she had evacuated her home in Malibu, posting a video on Instagram that showed dark smoke billowing overhead.

"Just landed back home and had one hour to pack up and evacuate our home. My home is in jeopardy but. everything with a heartbeat is safe", she said.

Her husband, the rapper Kanye West, said their family was "safe and close".

After an 8-2 regular season, Paradise was rewarded with the No. 3 seed in California's Northern Section Division II playoffs and a home game that would have been played Friday night against Red Bluff.

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Forecasts predict continued windy and dry conditions through the weekend, particularly in the northern part of the state, paired with low humidity, a lack of precipitation, and dry vegetation, which are expected to make fire danger worse in some of California's most populated areas.

Residents spoke of flames approaching their vehicles on the gridlocked roads and said electricity poles came crashing down.

Thousands of people were evacuated from Paradise, home to 26,000 people, including from schools and hospitals.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation", said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday.

About 2:30 a.m., all evacuation orders in the city of Los Angeles were changed from mandatory to voluntary, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The lull Saturday would give firefighters a chance to control the edges of the blaze and to swap fire crews, replacing firefighters who had worked for two days without rest, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. Some buildings caught fire and were damaged but the main facility, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, was not, spokeswoman Jill Kinney said.

Thousands are also without power in the region, which is just north of Sacramento.

"You could feel the heat from the flames", said McMillen, who returned Friday and found his home intact but stinking of smoke.

Others described watching flames consume their property as they evacuated.

The three blazes are among 16 now active fires in California.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

"It's devastating. It's like 'welcome to hell, ' " resident Cynthia Ball said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teen center serving as a shelter for evacuees.

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