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California Fires Burn 1 Million Acres in 2017

An unusually bad year for California wildfires has seen more than 1 million acres (1,500 square miles) burn so far in 2017.

Posted: Dec. 5, 2017 12:58 PM
Updated: Dec. 5, 2017 12:58 PM

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on wildfires in Southern California (all times local):

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12:45 p.m.

An unusually bad year for California wildfires has seen more than 1 million acres (1,500 square miles) burn so far in 2017.

The latest data released Tuesday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection covers land under both state and federal protection. The total area burned in the state this year is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

The figures released this week don't include the wind-driven wildfires currently raging in Southern California.

State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott has told lawmakers that climate change is spawning more and bigger wildfires. Blazes on land under Cal Fire's protection this year have burned more than twice the recent five-year average.

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11:25 a.m.

A third Southern California wildfire has broken out on the northern edge of Los Angeles, sweeping across 200 acres and closing the northbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby says the fire started about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Further details were not immediately available, but television footage showed the flames burning across dry hillside area.

Santa Clarita, home to the California Institute of the Arts, is about 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Interstate 5 is a major link connecting Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area.

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11:10 a.m.

A wind-driven wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles is blanketing a huge swatch of the city with thick dirty smoke, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay inside and refrain from strenuous physical activity.

Billowing clouds of black and grey smoke erupting from the fire spread quickly across the region Monday, fouling air across the city's San Fernando Valley and drifting to the beachfront communities of Malibu and Santa Monica.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the air far dirtier, and more health-threatening, than any the city sees during even its worst smog days.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory for Los Angeles County's 10 million residents. People are urged to stay inside and filter the air with their air conditioners.

9:15 a.m.

A wind-driven wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles has grown to more than 6 square miles (15.5 sq. kilometers) and 2,500 homes have been evacuated.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson says numerous structures are burning Tuesday morning, but he has no specific numbers.

More than 400 firefighters and 50 fire engines are on the scene near the Lakeview Terrace and Sylmar neighborhoods.

It's one of two major wildfires burning in Southern California as powerful Santa Ana winds sweep the region.

About 60 miles to the northwest, a fire has spread over 70 square miles in Ventura County and an estimated 150 structures have burned.

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8:13 a.m.

Authorities estimate a wind-driven Southern California wildfire has grown to more than 70 square miles (181 sq. kilometers).

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says the fire grew exponentially early Tuesday after breaking out Monday evening about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Lorenzen says more than 150 structures have burned. The fire is burning west toward the city of Ventura.

Another fire burning on the northern edge of Los Angeles is estimated at nearly 4 square miles (10 sq. kilometers).

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6:20 a.m.

A psychiatric hospital has burned in a raging wildfire in Southern California that has spread over 48 square miles and destroyed 150 structures in Ventura County, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

A live view of Vista del Mar Hospital broadcast by KCBS-TV shows the structure in flames. The facility treats patients with mental health problems, chemical dependency and veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says there's also a new fire on the north edge of the city that is threatening portions of the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods.

The department says evacuations are now being coordinated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The fires are being spread by the region's notorious Santa Ana winds. Meteorologists say it's the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season.

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3:50 a.m.

A wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California has scorched 48 square miles, destroyed 150 structures and left one firefighter injured, and officials say winds are increasing.

Authorities say the blaze broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

By early Tuesday, more than 27,000 people have been evacuated. It wasn't clear if the structures burned were homes or businesses. There was no immediate word on the extent of the firefighter's injury.

Earlier, evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

Southern California Edison says nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without service.

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2 a.m.

Nearly 8,000 homes have been evacuated after a wind-whipped wildfire exploded overnight in Southern California.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The flames reached about 40 square miles by early Tuesday.

Evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

The National Weather Service says gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue.

Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear if they were homes.

Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

Southern California Edison says nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without service.

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10 p.m.

Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire, which forced more than 600 homes to evacuate.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The flames reached nearly 8 square miles just hours later.

Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

Authorities say Ventura, a city of over 100,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire soon.

Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated.

The National Weather Service says winds of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue.

Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear what they were.

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