Santa Paula

About 43,000 SoCal Residents Without Power Due to Wind-Fueled Wildfires

Approximately 43,000 customers were experiencing power outages Tuesday night as wind-fueled wildfires continued to burn across Southern California.

Southern California Edison said that the number of those affected could fluctuate depending on the Thomas, Creek, Sylmar and Rye fires.

31,000-acre fire scorched through the Ventura County hills north of Los Angeles Monday night and several other fires broke out Tuesday amid Santa Ana winds. 

The fire — named the Thomas fire — was burning out of control just south of Thomas Aquinas College. The college issued a fire alert Monday around 8 p.m. and evacuated all students to nearby homes as a precaution.

By 5 a.m., about 180,000 people were without power in the Ventura county area and 83,000 customers in Santa Barbara county also lost power, SCE said at 12:30 a.m. By 7 a.m., that number dropped to 20,000.

As of Tuesday night, 43,000 customers were experiencing outages  

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Officials noted that some customers would be without power for days due to damage to transmission lines.

The Thomas fire was initially reported as 500 acres. By 4:40 a.m., the blaze reached 31,000 acres, prompting officials to order mandatory evacuations for over 27,000 residents, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. The blaze was advancing into the city limits of Ventura and toward Highway 33 and 500 firefighters were on the scene.

Other firefighters from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties were headed to the area to help battle the blaze, The Associated Press reported. 

"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. "All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures."

There were multiple reports of structures on fire. Officials at first said a person's death was associated with the fire, but Ventura County spokesman Bill Nash said early Tuesday that death was a family pet, not a person.

One firefighter was injured, but details on his condition weren't immediately available.

Winds exceeding 40 mph and gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue, the National Weather Service said.

--The Associated Press contributed to this story

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