At least three wildfires are currently making their way across Southern California, spreading with explosive speed and causing mass devastation, thousands of residents are being forced to evacuate.
The fires began on Monday night and continued to spread throughout the day on Tuesday, engulfing Santa Ana and Ventura counties with flames and stifling surrounding counties, including Los Angeles, with smoke.
So far, the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita has burned 1,000 acres according to ABC News. Santa Ana's Creek Fire has destroyed 11,000 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times. The most damaging is the Thomas Fire, which has been burning the longest and has torn through a massive 50,000 acres in Ventura County. According to CBC News, 150 structures have been confirmed destroyed so far.
The fires have grown so large and spread so quickly because of the Santa Ana winds, a California weather phenomenon that produces strong, extremely dry winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California.
The phenomenon makes for dangerous fire conditions, which is now affecting residents across everywhere from Ventura County to the north to Santa Clarita and Santa Ana to the east.
While photos already show a devastating scene, the danger is expected to be greatest on Thursday, when the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index forecasts an extreme fire threat all the way from Ventura County to the Mexican border.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has ordered the evacuation of 20.5 square miles including and surrounding the Creek Fire, which has already jumped a nearby highway and is threatening Santa Ana's Lake View Terrace and Sylmar neighbourhoods.
People all across Southern California are packing up their homes to salvage what they can from the blaze, with some residents seen fighting the fire with water hoses.
Most recently, a new blaze has broken out near the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, threatening some of the city’s priciest homes and blocking traffic on one of its busiest highways. The Skirball Fire ignited before 5AM on Wednesday in the Bel Air neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and quickly grew to about 50 acres.
So far, the fires are still out of control and structures are threatened throughout the fire area.