Southern California

‘We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet’: California Fire Chiefs Signal Dire Fire Warning

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What to Know

  • At least five brush fires were burning in Southern California
  • A state of emergency has been declared for three Southern California fires
  • Resources have been marshaled from nine states

California's top fire chief urged the public Wednesday to heed warnings to evacuate if another fire were to erupt amid winds he said could reach 80 mph.

With at least five wildfires burning in Southern California amid dry Santa Ana winds and low humidity, fire officials are stretched thin across the state. State emergency officials have marshaled resources from firefighters in nine states, have deployed all the nation's firefighting planes and have sent supplies including food, blankets, and water to Southern California. They've also upped the wind threat level to purple, the highest threat level the state has ever recorded.

"We are not out of the woods yet," said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of California's Office of Emergency Services. "This is a critical fire condition."

With expected 80 mph winds, Cal Fire's Chief Ken Pimlott fears the worst.

"There will be no ability to fight fires in this kind of wind," said Pimlott in a news conference update about the fires. "Conditions are going to change again tonight and they're going to be extreme tomorrow. We need to have everybody heads up and heads on a swivel.

"We are pulling out all the stops on the resources available in this firefight throughout Southern California."

Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed states of emergencies for three fires, the Thomas burning in Ventura County, the Creek Fire in Sylmar, and the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita. That means resources are being poured into Southern California from the state and from federal government grants under Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Firefighters are also coming in from Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Utah.

"People need to pay attention," Pimlott said.

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