Barely two months after the wine country fires charred Northern California, the state is once again staring down a spate of wildfires, this time in Southern California. These fires are fueled by some of the strongest Santa Ana winds in recent memory. Here are some eye-popping numbers from these newest fires:
Growing huge …
The Thomas fire, the largest of the blazes, is burning through Ventura County and it’s now four times the size of Manhattan and showing no signs of slowing down.
… really fast
The Thomas fire is moving fast. It had grown about 31,000 acres in about 9 hours — that’s nearly an acre per second the fire was spreading. That rate would burn through Manhattan’s Central Park in about 15 minutes. As of early Wednesday the Thomas fire had grown to 65,000 acres.
The last time the Santa Ana winds were this bad — multiple days of warning level winds and red flags — was 10 years ago, in October 2007. Current wind gusts in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are running from 50 to 70 mph, but isolated gusts in the mountains may hit 80 mph overnight Wednesday into Thursday. So the risk of the fires spreading will remain high.
More than a third of Ventura, California, residents have been forced from their homes. About 38,000 of the coastal city’s 100,000 residents have been evacuated since the fires started Monday night.
In the dark
About 43,000 homes are without power, a sliver of Southern California Edison’s 15 million customers, but those numbers could rise because flames were burning along power transmission paths.