ABC News reports that new fires, the Lilac fire in San Diego County and the Liberty fire in Riverside County, are being fueled by high Santa Ana winds and very low humidity. Winds are expected to die down slightly on Friday, but only before picking up again, and very intensely so, on Saturday.
Winds are blowing over 60 mph in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties on Thursday, thereby causing embers to spread. Gusts in San Diego County are reaching up to 50 mph, with humidity levels troublingly low.
More than 5,000 firefighters are putting their lives at risk to combat the main four wildfires and one smaller fire in San Bernadino, which, compared to the others, is extremely contained.
President Trump has responded to the request by California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, to declare a state of emergency for counties in southern California that are impacted by the wildfires. Brown's letter to Trump was delivered on Thursday and requested an emergency declaration, which would unlock significant federal resources for Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbra, and Ventura counties.
“I have determined this incident is of such severity and magnitude that continued effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments and supplemental federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen the effects of this imminent catastrophe,” Brown wrote, according to the Washington Examiner.
According to the White House, President Trump declared the emergency declaration on Friday morning. It reads,
"Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from wildfires beginning on December 4, 2017, and continuing.
The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment, and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.
Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Mark Armstrong as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas."
The Thomas Fire is the largest of the fires. It began on Monday night and grew into a massive blaze that burned over 10,000 acres in only a few hours. So far, the fire has burned a total of 132,000 acres of land on Friday morning. It is not contained. In fact, ABC News reports that only 10 percent of the Thomas Fire is contained. This fire has caused more than 88,000 residents to flee their homes, with more than 15,000 structures threatened by the flames.
The creek fire, located in the Kagel Canyon area above Los Angeles, has forced 150,000 residents to flee their home. 15,323 acres of land have been burned.
The Skirball fire has burned 475 acres of land so far and is located next to Los Angeles. 6 structures have been lost in the blaze, an additional 12 have been damaged, and one firefighter has suffered from burns due to the flames.
The Rye fire has currently consumed 7,000 acres of land in Santa Clarita. This fire is also not very contained, with only 25 percent currently under control and 5,420 homes currently under threat. 2,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
The Lilac fire is growing at a very alarming rate and is located in San Diego County. Over 4,100 acres of land have been burned so far. More than 1,000 structures are currently threatened by the flames and an additional 20 have been destroyed.
Liberty fire is located in Riverside County and has scorched 300 acres of land. This fire is 10 percent contained.
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