A fast-moving wildfire whipped by hot, dry Santa Ana winds destroyed hundreds of homes in and around Ventura, California, on Tuesday as thousands of residents were forced to flee ahead of the flames.
The blaze, dubbed the Thomas Fire, broke out on Monday evening in the foothills above Ventura. Winds quickly drove it west into the city some 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, freeing state funds and resources to assist the more than 1,000 firefighters battling to save homes from the conflagration.
There were no immediate reports of fatalities from the blaze but KABC-TV reported that one person was killed in a car crash while fleeing the area.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a car hit a firefighter who was protecting homes from the flames. It said he was being treated in hospital.
“Due to the intensity of the fire, crews are having trouble making access and there are multiple reports of structures on fire,” officials said on Ventura County’s emergency management website.
More than 250,000 homes were without power, utilities said. All schools in the Ventura Unified School District were closed.