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Wildfires threaten Ventura County, Calif.

  • A firefighter pulls a water hose as a wildfires continues to burn Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Santa Paula, Calif. Raked by ferocious Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires northwest of Los Angeles and in the city's foothills burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of homes and other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • Flames consume a home as a wildfire rages in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday. ap photo

  • Smoke rises behind a leveled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Over 100 structures have burned so far in Ventura County, officials said. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger

  • Seen from Carpinteria, Calif., smoke from a wildfire billows over Ventura, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger

  • A man watches as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger

  • An apartment complex burns as a wildfire rages in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger

  • Bob Pazen's home is a smoldering ruin after after a wildfire swept through Ventura, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Pazen was in bed Monday night when his son came in and told them they needed to evacuate. Pazen, his wife, son and the family dog evacuated from the home, grabbing just a few pieces of clothing and jewelry. When he came back to check on his home Tuesday morning, his house was fine, but when he returned later, the house was fully engulfed in flames. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers) Amanda Lee Myers

  • In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, a firefighter works to put out a blaze early Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Santa Paula, Calif. Authorities said the file broke out Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades. (Ryan Cullom/Ventura County Fire Department via AP) Ryan Cullom

  • In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, firefighters work to put out a blaze burning homes early Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Ventura, Calif. Authorities said the blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades. (Ryan Cullom/Ventura County Fire Department via AP) Ryan Cullom

  • Firefighters put out a flames burning a home Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Ventura, Calif. Authorities said the blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • Flames rise near a home as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Ferocious winds in Southern California have whipped up explosive wildfires, burning a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures. (AP Photo/Jae Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • Firefighters put out a wildfire burning in an orchard Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Santa Paula, Calif. Raked by ferocious Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires northwest of Los Angeles and in the city's foothills burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of homes and other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong



Associated Press
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

VENTURA, Calif. — For the second time in two months, wind-driven fires tore through California communities in the middle of the night, leaving rows of homes and a psychiatric hospital in ruins Tuesday and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries in the blazes burning in Southern California’s Ventura County, on the edge of Los Angeles and in inland San Bernardino County.

The Ventura wildfire broke out Monday and grew to nearly 80 square miles. It was fanned by dry Santa Ana winds at well over 60 mph that grounded firefighting helicopters and planes.

Fires aren’t typical in Southern California this time of year but can break out when dry vegetation and too little rain combine with the Santa Ana winds. Hardly any measurable rain has fallen in the region in the past six months.

Like the deadly October fires in Napa and Sonoma counties, the blazes are in areas more suburban than rural.

The official count was that at least 150 structures burned in the Ventura County fire, but it was sure to go higher.

Mansions and modest homes alike were in flames. The Hawaiian Village Apartments burned to the ground. The Vista del Mar Hospital, which treats patients with mental problems or substance abuse, including veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, smoldered after burning overnight.

Aerial footage showed dozens of homes in one neighborhood burned to the ground and a large subdivision in jeopardy as the flames spit out embers that could spark new blazes.

More than 27,000 people were evacuated, and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County. The fire erupted near Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles known for its citrus and avocado orchards and farm fields along the Santa Clara River.