A series of massive wildfires raging across the American Southwest have already scorched some 83,000 acres, destroying homes and businesses along the way. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate as the fires approach larger population centers, to include the city of Los Angeles.
Images and videos have begun to emerge on social media of the apocalyptic scenario commuters were met with as they traversed California’s I-405. The highway was eventually shut down as a result of the danger these fires pose to motorists.
Not the typical morning commute… pic.twitter.com/kJIOQeqsIK
— A. Mutzabaugh CMT (@WLV_investor) December 6, 2017
“It was dark until I saw a gigantic ball of orange,” motorist Tiffany Lynette Anderson wrote on her Instagram account. “On absolute fire. I’m grateful to be safe — truly grateful.”
Despite these incredibly dramatic images, the fire pictured is actually among the smaller wild fires authorities are working feverishly to contain. Dubbed the Skirball Fire (based on the nearby Skirball Cultural Center), the wildfire that shut down the I-405 is only about 50 acres and growing. Some other wild fires in the region have been said to be engulfing territory at a rate of a football field a minute.
— Bethany Ellis (@bethanyel) December 6, 2017
The largest of these fires, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, has already enveloped some 65,000 acres. Thus far it has destroyed some 150 buildings, many in the city of Ventura, including a mental health facility. Reports indicate that all of the patients were safely evacuated before the danger closed in. More than 38,000 residents in Ventura have been ordered to evacuate, with a city-wide curfew barring any of the remaining residents from leaving their homes between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) December 5, 2017
More than 150,000 residents of Los Angeles are now being ordered to evacuate as well, with 43,000 of those permitted to remain now living without power due to damage to the state’s electrical infrastructure. Crews won’t be able to even begin repairs on power lines until the danger from the fire has passed in most places.
Authorities warn that more evacuation orders may be forthcoming, as winds are expected to pick up Wednesday afternoon which may aid in the fire’s spread.
“It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said as he declared a state of emergency.
Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti echoed that sentiment in his own statements this week: “We want to be really clear, folks,” he said. “We have lost structures; we have not lost lives. Do not wait. Leave your homes.”
Image courtesy of Twitter