Six large wildfires have scorched nearly 160,000 acres in the state this week, said officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. At least 5,700 firefighters are working to contain the towering walls of flames.
The fires have forced 190,000 people out of their homes, some with nothing but their pets and a few mementos.
Dry air and strong winds are forecast for the region through Sunday, which may fuel the fires, according to CNN meteorologist Rachel Aissen.
Residents should be ready to evacuate even if they don’t live in areas immediately affected by flames, Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler said Thursday night.
“They need to prepare as if they will be impacted. Where are they gonna go? What are their escape routes? What is their communication to their families?” he said.
- Federal assistance: President Donald Trump declared an emergency in the state Friday due to the wildfires and ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
- New fire: The Lilac Fire in San Diego County started Thursday and grew to 4,100 acres in a few hours, leading to new evacuation orders. Evacuation centers have been set up in affected areas as the fire moves west toward Oceanside and Camp Pendleton.
- More injuries: The Lilac Fire has left three people with burn injuries and two firefighters hurt. One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation, while the second one had a dislocated shoulder. The latter popped it back into place and continued working, Schuler said.
- Out of power: At least 20,000 customers in northern San Diego are without power because of the Lilac Fire, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. Restoration of service could begin later Friday.
- School closings: Officials have shut down schools spanning at least 16 districts.
- State declarations: Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. The declarations help free state resources such as the National Guard to support response efforts. He’s also requested federal assistance to supplement state and local emergency response.
- Fast winds: Wind gusts in the region will be 35 to 55 mph through Sunday, which can fan the fire, Aissen said.
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