Forest Fires Near L.A. Close Roads

The Thomas Fire just north of Santa Paula, Calif., is burning approximately 45,000 acres as of press time, forcing thousands of evacuations and several highway closures. Two separate fires in Los Angeles County also are threatening residents and motorists.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Thomas Fire began burning at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4, near Highway 150 and Highway 126 in Ventura County. High winds fuelled the fire overnight, spreading the wildfire at a rapid rate.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura County because of the Thomas Fire on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the Highway 150 corridor north of Monte Vista in Santa Paula. Evacuations include the entire community of Casitas Springs, the city of Ventura and East Ojai Valley.

According to a county website, the fire has burned into the city limits of Ventura and toward Highway 33.

As of 11:10 a.m. local time, the fire was at 0 percent containment. More than 1,000 firefighters are on the scene. Approximately 150 structures have been destroyed, with another 3,000 structures under threat.

Meanwhile, in San Fernando, the Creek Fire has burned 4,000 acres. According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, the fire was sparked at approximately 3:44 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Mandatory evacuations are in place in a zone north of Interstate 210 from La Crescenta to Glenoaks Boulevard off ramp. As of Tuesday morning, I-210 was closed in both directions from Sunland to Interstate 5. State Route 118 at I-210 also was closed. Northbound State Route 2 was closed to westbound I-210.

Motorists are advised to take alternate routes to the south only.

Just west of Valencia along the Rye Canyon Loop, the Rye Fire started at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, burning 500 acres. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, both directions of Interstate 5 were closed at State Route 126. All of the Rye Canyon Loop to Kelly Johnson Parkway is closed off. Newhall Rand Road from Copperhill Drive to I-5 is also closed.