Los Angeles threatened as wildfires spread, forcing thousands to evacuate

The Thomas Fire has destroyed 65,000 acres of land and forced 27,000 people to flee their homes in Ventura County north of Los Angles

Image The Thomas fire alone has destroyed 65,000 acres of land in Ventura County

The Southern California fires have affected some of the area's busiest traffic arteries. But never purple wind.

A red-flag warning, which is for extreme weather conditions that could cause wildfires, is in effect until 8 p.m. Friday.

The forecast for Thursday is purple.

These aren't the first major fires California has had to deal with in recent months. The Skirball Fire was spread across at least 150 acres at last estimate, authorities said.

But the hard-won progress of firefighters could be erased Thursday.

"When the call comes in to help, we need to go help", UFA Public Information Officer Eric Holmes said.

Such winds can instantly turn a tiny fire into a large one, or carry embers that spark new fires miles away.

Elsewhere in Santa Clarita, the Rye Fire has grown to 7,000 acres since it began on Tuesday morning.

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Patricia Hampton, a homeless woman who lost her tent, was sheltered at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which is serving as an evacuation center. She and her husband were about to evacuate again, hoping they will get lucky twice as the new winds arrive. "We're very grateful but I know we're not out of the woods".

The four fires are now blazing through thousands of acres in California, forcing residents to evacuate. The blaze had been creeping there already, but an increase in winds pushed it close enough for many more to flee.

Hot, dry Santa Ana winds are expected to fan several relentless wildfires in southern California on Thursday, where hundreds of houses have burned and tens of thousands have fled their homes around Los Angeles, the second-largest USA city.

The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains on the city's western side.

"It grew wildly to more than 15 square miles in the hours that followed - consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades", Sergeant Buschow said. The freeway reopened on Wednesday.

Some 30 structures were destroyed by the Creek Fire as of Tuesday evening, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The water-dropping planes and helicopters essential to fighting massive fires have been mostly grounded because it's too unsafe to fly in the strong gusts. Firefighters rushed to attack the fires before winds picked up again.

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