- Multiple wildfires continue to burn throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties in Southern California.
- The largest blaze – known as the Thomas Fire – began last week in Ventura County and burned more than 200,000 acres.
- Santa Ana winds have pushed the Thomas Fire into Santa Barbara County, threatening the seaside communities of Carpenteria, Summerland, and Montecito.
A series of wildfires last week scorched more than 260,000 acres in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties in Southern California. The first and largest blaze, dubbed the Thomas Fire, started December 4 in Ventura County and has moved North, becoming a threat to Santa Barbara County.
- Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties: 234,200 acres, 20% containment, 794 structures destroyed, 187 structures damaged out of at least 18,000 threatened.
- Skirball Fire in Bel Air: 422 acres, 85% containment.
- Lilac Fire in San Diego County: 4,100 acres, 90% contained, 151 structures destroyed and 56 damaged.
- Rye Fire in Santa Clarita: 6,049 acres, 93% containment.
- Creek Fire in Sylmar: 15,619 acres, 98% containment, at least 30 structures damaged or destroyed, at least 2,500 homes threatened.
The Thomas Fire had grown to more than 65,000 acres in two days and destroyed at least 150 structures out of at least 12,000 threatened in Ventura and Ojai. The fire grew by 50,000 acres on Sunday as dry Santa Ana winds continued, triggering evacuation orders throughout Santa Barbara County. One death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire: the body of 70-year-old Virginia Pesola was discovered at a car crash site on an evacuation route in Ventura County on Wednesday night, according to NBC.
As many as 200,000 people had been displaced in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and authorities closed – and then reopened – parts of the 405 Freeway on Wednesday last week, causing gridlock throughout the region. More than 50 schools were closed in the Los Angeles area through the end of the week.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, freeing up state funds to help tackle the wildfires.
“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to tackle it with all we’ve got,” Brown said. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told reporters that the fires’ growth had been “absolutely exponential.”
Here are a few ways you can help:
Thomas Fire Fund
- The United Way of Ventura County, American Red Cross of Ventura County, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services have teamed up to create the Thomas Fire Fund.
- Text UWVC to 41444 to make a cash donation, call 805-485-6288, or go online to United Way of Ventura County’s website.
- Checks with “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo line can be mailed to 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100 Ventura, CA 93003.
The Salvation Army
- The Salvation Army is accepting food and water at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
- You can donate cash by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visiting the website.
The Red Cross
- The Red Cross of Los Angeles will update its social media accounts with information about volunteer opportunities.
- Make a cash donation on redcrossla.org or over the phone by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
The Humane Society of Ventura County
- The Humane Society of Ventura County has taken in over 100 animals.
- Drop off any of the following items at 402 Bryant St. in Ojai: Alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, cat chow, rabbit food, flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, water troughs, bottled water, fruit, snacks, hoses, and power generators.
- Donate food and water for volunteers, or make a cash donation on HSVC’s website.
Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation
- Donate to Noah’s Legacy Fund, which provides supplies, training, and equipment to first responders charged with rescuing animals from areas stricken by natural disasters.
- Mail donations to P.O. Box 100515, Pasadena, CA 91189-0515 or through the LACACF website.
- Dozens of families who’ve already lost their homes have turned to GoFundMe for donations.
- Here is a list of all the verified campaigns.
- Santa Barbara-based organisation Direct Relief is donating 100% of designated funds to victims of the wildfires.
- Donate money for supplies online and make sure you direct your donation to “Southern California Wildfires.”