Winds whip up in Southern California fires, prompting evacuations

2017 California Wildfires

The Ventura County Fire Department said over 27,000 people had been told to evacuate their homes and the fast-moving fire in the coastal county north of Los Angeles had grown to 31,000 acres (12,545 hectares). Soon after, the hospital was "razed to the ground" by the fire, according to a local news report.

Firefighters battled the rapidly growing blaze throughout Monday night trying to contain the flames, as thousands of residents evacuated their homes.

A woman evacuates her home as the fire burns in Santa Paula on December 5. Lorenzen added that all firefighters can do at this stage is try and get ahead of the fire and protect structures. It reached the northern edge of Ventura, a city with a population of more than 100,000, by 2 a.m.

"This will likely be the strongest and longest duration santa ana wind event we have seen so far this season", the weather service said.

"The fire is still out of control and structures continue to be threatened throughout the fire area", county emergency officials said in statement.

"The prospects for containment are not good", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said.

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The National Weather Service said winds of 43 miles per hour with gusts over 60 miles per hour were reported in the area and were expected to continue.

The fire also struck some key transmission lines, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.

The fire is believed to have broken out close to Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, some 50 miles (80km) north of Los Angeles, early on Monday evening.

"I'm not going to wait around for someone to come rescue me so I'm outta here", said June Byrum.

Fire engines and helicopters were responding to the fire in Ventura County Monday night, it has already burned 25,000 acres.

"We've been here nearly 30 years we've gone through floods, gone through fires, it's just the wind, you don't know where it's going to go", added Chula Casas.

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