California wildfire bigger than New York city
Los Angeles: The most destructive wildfire raging in southern California has expanded significantly, scorching an area larger than New York City, according to fire officials.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has consumed 230,000 acres since it broke out on December 4, reports the BBC.
Fanned by strong winds, it has become the fifth largest wildfire in recorded state history after it grew by more than 50,000 acres in a day. Residents in coastal beach communities have been ordered to evacuate.
On Sunday, firefighters reported that 15 percent of the blaze had been contained but were forced to downgrade that to 10 per cent as it continued to spread.
"This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
The other fires hitting California are largely controlled, but 200,000 people have evacuated their homes and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed since December 4. Evacuation orders were issued overnight on Sunday for parts of Carpinteria close to Los Padres National Forest, about 160 km northwest of Los Angeles, the BBC reported.
California has spent the past week battling wildfires. Six large blazes, and other smaller ones. The Thomas Fire – named according to where it started, near the Thomas Aquinas College – is by far the largest of the fires. The authorities issued a purple alert – the highest level warning – amid what it called "extremely critical fire weather", while US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency.
Strong winds have helped push fires through dry brush and impeded firefighting efforts. The National Weather Service predicted that strong Santa Ana winds would continue blowing through Monday, gusting up to 45 miles per hour.
While the Thomas Fire was the most dire threat, it was one of six different fires that burned across hundreds of miles and multiple metropolitan areas in California.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been pushed from their homes in the week since the blazes ignited, though some began to return as firefighters made progress against Los Angeles
area conflagrations. AGENCIES