Raging Wilde Fire Ravages California Coastal Cities
A raging wildfire pushed toward a string of California coastal cities on Sunday, prompting new evacuations as crews fought to save homes in the face of gusty winds that have fueled blazes across the state for nearly a week.
Authorities ordered residents in parts of Carpinteria and Montecito to leave early on Sunday as the Thomas Fire edged closer to Santa Barbara, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Los Angeles on the scenic central California coast.
The blaze, the worst of six major fires in Southern California in the last week and already the 10th largest on record in the state since 1932, has blackened 173,000 acres (62,726 hectares), destroyed hundreds of structures and left nearly 90,000 homes and businesses without power.
The combination of Santa Ana winds and rugged terrain in the mountains that run through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have hampered firefighting efforts, and officials said the Thomas Fire was only 15 percent contained on Sunday.
The National Weather Service said winds of up to 55 miles (88 km) per hour were expected on Sunday evening, up from gusts of 40 miles per hour on Saturday.
The fires burning across Southern California have forced the evacuation of some 200,000 people and destroyed nearly 800 structures.
Among them are residents of Montecito, one of the state’s wealthiest communities and home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey.
Emmy Leikin, an Emmy-winning songwriter who was ordered to evacuate her Montecito home at 9 a.m. on Sunday, said she fled with only her cell phone, medication, eyeglasses and a few apples.
Leikin, 74, said she doesn’t know the condition of her home and belongings but “none of that means anything when it is your safety.”
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