AFP / MARK RALSTON
Trees are seen through the haze at the burned-out Vista del Mar Hospital after the wildfire Thomas swept through Ventura, California
An inferno engulfed the Los Angeles region Wednesday, forcing more than 200,000 people, including the luxurious Bel-Air neighborhood dotted with mansions. Authorities issued a “purple” alert – never used before – because of the extreme danger with winds that could reach 80 miles an hour (128 kilometers an hour), severely limiting firefighting efforts.
“Yesterday it was further north, but this morning we said,” said Los Angeles resident Patricia Moore, 84, loading beware of the trunk of her car. “We heard the fire engines before six o’clock this morning, and we said, ‘Maybe we should start getting our stuff into the car.'” The flames have swallowed about 80,000 acres (32,000 hectares) in just over a day since the “Thomas” fire, currently the largest state, broke out, leaving 45 minutes from downtown LA.

AFP / Robyn Beck
Flames are seen behind a mansion in the luxurious Bel Air neighborhood is threatened by the “Skirball” Fire in the west Los Angeles, California on December 6, 2017
High winds caused another wave of wildfires to erupt overnight Tuesday, including one in Los Angeles’ affluent Bel-Air neighborhood. The area battled gridlocked traffic as residents fled ash and smoke that churned over the smoldering hillside in the United States’ second-largest city.
Fire crews working to save those homes threatened by the flames. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said more than 230,000 people had been forced to leave their homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. “Very strong winds” blowing from the northeast to the southwest of the world is causing the fire to balloon, he said, warning Angelenos to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. In Bel-Air, that’s exactly what they did.

AFP / Kyle Grillot
FireFighters work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the “Skirball” fire in Los Angeles, California, on December 6, 2017
The “Skirball” fire ignited before 5:00 am (1300 GMT) and soon grew to engulf about 150 acres around the district, home to celebrities and billionaires including Elon Musk and pop superstar Beyonce. Police knocked on doors and used loudspeakers to make sure everybody left their mansions.
“They told us to leave,” one of the officers said. Forecasters predicted that it could cause further spreading, threatening more upscale homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. The “Skirball” is a major commuting corridor. Freeway, major commuting corridor. Residents of wealthy The neighborhoods between Mulholland Drive and the Sunset Boulevard are part of the evacuation zone. A cloud of black smoke was creeping across the city with a wide, dark column rising into the air, leaving the airs concerned about unbreathable air in some places. “We’re encouraging people not to exercise outside.” Garcetti said. – Flames menacing art – The acclaimed Getty arts institution – home to masterpieces by those by Edouard Manet – was closed until at least Thursday. Museum authorities tweeted that “air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke.” The prestigious University of California, Los Angeles is nearing the end of the day, and after the event.

AFP / Robyn Beck
A firefighter loads belongings in the trunk of a resident’s Bentley as she flees her home in the luxurious Bel Air in Los Angeles, California, on December 6, 2017
Dozens of schools were closed, as Santa Monica College. Just north in Ventura County the “Thomas” blaze continued unabated, after erupting in the hills of Santa Paula.
Fire departments from across the state have arrived at the ferocious wildfires. Authorities warned that winds will be able to remain until Friday. – State of emergency – Firefighters were also on the scene of the “Rye” fire – which had grown to 7,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area – as well as “Creek” fire north of downtown Los Angeles that had grown to more than 11,000 acres. California Governor Jerry Brown declared on Tuesday. “This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly,” he announced. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

AFP / Mark RALSTON
A motorist involved in a traffic accident waits to get towed beside a wall of flames during the wildfire Thomas near Ventura, California
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it had released funds for relief services. US President Donald Trump tweets a message of “thoughts and prayers” to California as soon as it’s nearing the end of its deadliest year ever for wildfires.
burs-it / acb

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