SANTA PAULA — Ferocious Santa Ana winds raking Southern California whipped explosive wildfires Tuesday, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of homes.
The biggest blaze broke out Monday in Ventura County and grew wildly to more than 48 square miles (124 sq. kilometers) in the hours that followed, sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said.
Another fire erupted on the north edge of Los Angeles, threatening the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods, where residents scrambled to get out.
At least 150 structures had burned so far in Ventura County, officials said. Officials did not immediately say what type of buildings burned, but TV reports showed homes in flames as well as Vista del Mar Hospital, a facility that treats patients with mental problems, chemical dependency and veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
More than 27,000 people have been evacuated and one firefighter was injured in Ventura County. There was no word on the extent of the injuries. After initial reports of a fatality, county fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann said a dead dog but no person was found in an overturned car.
The winds were pushing the fire toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. Many of the evacuated homes were in that city.
However, evacuation orders were expanded to houses in Ventura, which is 12 miles (19 kilometers) southwest and has 106,000 residents.
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said before dawn. “Really, Mother Nature is going to decide.”