The Thomas Fire, which is burning over 240,000 acres as of Thursday, has leveled homes, apartments, and hospitals as it swept through Ventura. Thousands of firefighters battled the blaze, though it remains only 30% contained.
The current blaze has been fed by dry, powerful winds and an uncharacteristic lack of precipitation. But the destruction in Ventura is part of a scary trend – severe wildfires in California have increased in frequency over the last two decades.
Here are some of the most striking images of the damage:
This is what the Vista del Mar hospital in Ventura used to look like. The facility burned to the ground on December 5 after the Thomas Fire swept through the area.
After the fire passed through, smoke rose from the smouldering remains of this building at Vista Del Mar Hospital.
Here’s what some of the residential streets in Ventura were like before the fire, as captured by Google Street View.
Richie Fredell, 38, a paramedic, lost his childhood home on a similar street in Ventura.
The remains of another home are seen after it burned to the ground on December 6.
The Hawaiian Village apartment complex in Ventura was completely destroyed in the fire.
A firefighter sprayed water on the remains of the Hawaiian Village apartments on December 5.
Linda and John Keasler lived in the Hawaiian Village Apartments, the ruins of which are behind them. “It is sad. We loved this place. We lost everything,” John Keasler, 65, told the Associated Press.
Ventura was known for its prime, ocean-front real estate.
A number of those beachfront homes burned to the ground when the fire reached the Pacific coast.
Paul and Erica Mattesich embraced before sifting through rubble of their home on December 8.
Here’s another view of a fairly typical residential street in Ventura before the fires.
The Thomas Fire destroyed over 1,000 structures, many of them private homes.
Plenty of residents lost everything to the blaze.
Houses were reduced to ashes and rubble.
Ventura has burned in the past, but each time, the town finds a way to rebuild.
Paul Mattesich handed a jar to his wife Erica Mattesich while sifting through what remains of his family’s home.
Bree Laubacher sifted through rubble at her house as well.
The Thomas Fire has moved outside of populated areas, though it continues to burn the mountains of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. This canyon was scorched.
It’s difficult for firefighters to control the blaze in the dry, remote hillsides, so helicopters are dropping water on the flames to keep them from reaching more homes. Nearly a quarter of a million acres continue to burn as of Thursday.
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