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California wildfires: Governor offers grim outlook

Gov. Jerry Brown has a sobering message for Southern Californians after a week of raging wildfires: This is your new ...

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 9:03 AM
Updated: Dec 11, 2017 9:03 AM

Gov. Jerry Brown has a sobering message for Southern Californians after a week of raging wildfires: This is your new normal.

A half dozen fires have collectively scorched nearly 200,000 acres since last week and destroyed 792 structures, according to officials.

NEW: The largest of the fires grows to 173,000 acres

Thousands of firefighters are working to contain the blazes

As 4,000 firefighters battled the largest one, the Thomas Fire, the governor surveyed the damage in Ventura County on Saturday.

"This is kind of the new normal," he said, adding that extreme fire activity will happen on a regular basis for decades.

"With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up," he said. "So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests ... in a place that's getting hotter."

Mother Nature was not offering any encouragement, either. Gusts from the Santa Ana winds are forecast to reach 55 mph Sunday. The winds had weakened slightly Saturday, giving firefighters a much-needed break after days of erratic conditions.

At least one death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire, which broke out in Ventura County on Monday. Authorities believe Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, died in a crash while fleeing the fire.

Latest developments

Setbacks: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said. It means that critical fire weather conditions are expected due to a combination of gusty winds and low humidity.

Progress: Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said firefighters are making a lot of progress, but there's still much to be done. "We're far from being out of the woods on any of them," he said.

Teamwork: Nearly 1,000 fire departments across California are involved in efforts to contain the blazes.

More help: The White House has approved California's request for direct federal assistance. President Donald Trump ordered FEMA and Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts in affected counties.

The fires

The six blazes vary in size.

Thomas Fire: It had scorched 173,000 acres by early Sunday, with about 15% of it contained. It started Monday in Ventura County, and has since spread into Santa Barbara County, making it the biggest in the Los Angeles area since the Bel-Air fire in 1961 torched the homes of the rich and famous. More than 4,400 people are battling the blaze, according to Cal Fire.

On Sunday morning, as the fire was advancing toward Montecito, residents of nearby Carpinteria could see ribbons of flames in the foothills, sending smoke curling into the sky. Water-dropping helicopters were helping fight the blaze alongside at least one hundred fire engines, some from as far away as Portland, Oregon.

Creek Fire: The second-largest blaze ignited a day later in neighboring Los Angeles County. It has burned 15,619 acres and is 90% contained.

Rye Fire: It broke out Tuesday in Los Angeles County and has burned 6,049 acres. Firefighters are making progress, with 90% of the blaze contained.

Lilac Fire: This fast-moving fire has consumed 4,100 acres since it ignited Thursday in San Diego County. Firefighters have regained control of it, and it's 60% contained.

Skirball Fire: It started Wednesday as a brush fire in Los Angeles County. It has burned 421 acres and is now 75% contained.

Liberty Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has burned 300 acres since it ignited Thursday. It's 100% contained, but authorities are monitoring it as winds pick up.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 205030

Reported Deaths: 2730
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40113612
Washington26647247
Marion23258322
Clackamas18748234
Lane13772158
Jackson11420146
Deschutes993180
Umatilla851786
Linn550479
Klamath475377
Yamhill474779
Polk393755
Douglas378580
Malheur359763
Josephine352972
Benton323922
Jefferson235738
Coos215737
Columbia188629
Union148724
Wasco143429
Lincoln141221
Crook127423
Hood River121633
Morrow115016
Clatsop10268
Baker99215
Curry68510
Tillamook6604
Grant5477
Lake4667
Harney4149
Wallowa1945
Gilliam751
Sherman661
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3801728

Reported Deaths: 63193
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124612924434
Riverside3013124618
San Bernardino2989764788
San Diego2812033770
Orange2726505103
Santa Clara1198942175
Kern1106041400
Sacramento1071991718
Fresno1027831720
Alameda893401285
Ventura815541028
San Joaquin744011432
Contra Costa70276810
Stanislaus631901068
Tulare49758849
Monterey43791419
San Mateo42604581
San Francisco37189555
Santa Barbara34572460
Solano33569266
Merced32253474
Sonoma30688323
Imperial28799741
Placer23345298
Kings23166247
San Luis Obispo21405261
Madera16586245
Santa Cruz16202208
Marin14170229
Yolo14118212
Shasta12580232
Butte12576194
El Dorado10339116
Napa998680
Sutter9614112
Yuba644850
San Benito609563
Lassen577524
Tehama571663
Nevada487875
Humboldt441546
Mendocino427450
Tuolumne418569
Amador372147
Lake355245
Glenn242527
Siskiyou238637
Colusa227918
Calaveras220056
Del Norte14488
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7356
Modoc5344
Mariposa4617
Trinity4165
Sierra1130
Alpine890
Unassigned330
Medford
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Brookings
Cloudy
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Feels Like: 61°
Crater Lake
Mostly Cloudy
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Hi: 51° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 70°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
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Hi: 72° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 70°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 70° Lo: 52°
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Pop-up thunderstorms today, clearing out tomorrow.
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