Crews protect hillside homes as California fire grows

Posted: Updated:

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The fifth largest wildfire in California history expanded, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds.

Firefighters protected foothill homes northwest of Los Angeles, making progress in residential areas while much of the fire's growth occurred to the north in unoccupied forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said Tuesday.

"There were a couple of flare-ups in the hills that put on a light show last night, but they were expected. For now the teams are fighting the fire on their own terms," he said, adding that shifting winds are always a danger.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended into the week instead of expiring Monday afternoon as was initially forecast.

"It doesn't get much drier than this folks," the National Weather Service tweeted, adding that more than 80 observation sites in the region reported Monday relative humidity levels between just 1 and 9 percent.

Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated, including many from the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.

Residents near a Carpinteria avocado orchard said the trees could end up saving their homes.

"You have a thick layer of leaves underneath the bottom and they are watered regularly, so it's like a sponge," Jeff Dreyer, who lives nearby, told KEYT-TV. "So the fire gets to the sponge full of water and it slows it down. It takes a long time for it to burn."

Poor air quality kept dozens of schools closed. As ash rained down and smoke blew through streets, regulators urged people to remain inside if possible and avoid strenuous activity.

Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Los Angeles that's home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore. Actor Rob Lowe was among residents who evacuated over the weekend.

The blaze - known as the Thomas Fire - has destroyed more than 680 homes, officials said. It was just partially contained after burning more than 360 square miles (930 square kilometers) of dry brush and timber. The fire has been burning for more than a week.

To the north, San Francisco Bay Area firefighters quickly contained blazes Tuesday that destroyed at least two homes in hills east of Oakland - the site of a 1991 firestorm that killed 25 people.

Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region's most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.

The weather service said that if the long-term forecast holds, there will have been 13 consecutive days of dry offshore flow before it ends Friday afternoon. There have only been 17 longer streaks since 1948, including the record of 24 days set between December 1953 and January 1954.

High fire risk is expected to last into January.

___

For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Long Island Top StoriesMore>>

  • Nassau vigil honors Florida school shooting victims

    Nassau vigil honors Florida school shooting victims

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 10:27 PM EST2018-02-21 03:27:38 GMT
    Dozens of people gathered outside the Nassau Legislative Building in Mineola Tuesday evening at a vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week.Dozens of people gathered outside the Nassau Legislative Building in Mineola Tuesday evening at a vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week.

    Dozens of people gathered outside the Nassau Legislative Building in Mineola Tuesday evening at a vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week. 

    Dozens of people gathered outside the Nassau Legislative Building in Mineola Tuesday evening at a vigil for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last week. 

  • NUMC fires 9 appointees to make room for more nurses

    NUMC fires 9 appointees to make room for more nurses

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 5:52 AM EST2018-02-21 10:52:24 GMT
    Nassau University Medical Center says the elimination of the jobs will save the hospital $1.6 million a year.Nassau University Medical Center says the elimination of the jobs will save the hospital $1.6 million a year.

    Nassau University Medical Center says the elimination of the jobs will save the hospital $1.6 million a year.

    Nassau University Medical Center says the elimination of the jobs will save the hospital $1.6 million a year.

  • Town of Hempstead plans to overhaul snow plowing response

    Town of Hempstead plans to overhaul snow plowing response

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 5:50 AM EST2018-02-21 10:50:26 GMT
    News 12 has learned there were more than 3,600 complaints following the big snowstorm on Jan. 4.News 12 has learned there were more than 3,600 complaints following the big snowstorm on Jan. 4.

    News 12 has learned there were more than 3,600 complaints following the big snowstorm on Jan. 4.

    News 12 has learned there were more than 3,600 complaints following the big snowstorm on Jan. 4.

  • SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Your February Snow Photos

    Your February Snow Photos

    Sunday, February 18 2018 10:54 AM EST2018-02-18 15:54:26 GMT
    Your February Snow PhotosYour February Snow Photos

    Did you snap a great pic of the snow from the overnight storm? Share with us here, or use the hashtag #LIWeather on Twitter and Instagram.

    Did you snap a great pic of the snow from the overnight storm? Share with us here, or use the hashtag #LIWeather on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Your Long Island Weather Photos

    Your Long Island Weather Photos

    Meiko at the fire island lighthouseMeiko at the fire island lighthouse

    Share your weather photos with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #LIWeather.

    Share your weather photos with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #LIWeather.

  • 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    Photos from the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Images via Getty.

    Photos from the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Images via Getty.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."