California wind, and fire danger, hits unprecedented high


After two days of intense firestorms, Southern California is bracing for perhaps its most challenging day as Santa Ana winds that spread the infernos are expected to peak Thursday. But never purple wind.

"The forecast for [Thursday] is purple", Ken Pimlott, director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said last night, referring to the only color above red on the wind scale.

"It's heartbreaking for the Californians and we don't want to go back because we know what it's going to look like when we get there", Holmes said Wednesday.

The remains of a home destroyed by the Creek fire burn Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, on the 11500 block of Cassara Avenue in Lake View Terrace.

But the hard-won progress of firefighters could be erased Thursday. "So we can't let our guard down at all", McHale said.

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

It's the same region of Los Angeles where hundreds of homes burned in the famous 1961 Bel Air Fire.

Homes there have been damaged and more than 400 firefighters have been sent there.

"Winds have died down to allow fire department to get some control, but high winds/Santa Ana winds coming tonight", Freeman said via text message.

Deputy Fire Chief Charles Butler said firefighters and aircraft stopped the growth of the 475-acre blaze in the Bel Air neighbourhood. The blaze had been creeping there already, but an increase in winds pushed it close enough for many more to flee.

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.

Flames burned a wine storage shed at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 16-acre (6.5-hectare) Moraga Vineyards estate and appeared to have damaged about 7 acres (2.8 hectares) of vines, a spokeswoman said. The freeway reopened on Wednesday.

Firefighters have another new brush fire to deal with Wednesday morning as a flames engulfed an area near the Getty Center in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The fire fight improved as winds calmed, allowing officials to do battle in the air and on the ground when the fire was moving slower.

Winds of those speeds are hard to stop even by an army of firefighters.

"Our fire situation is certainly reduced enough that we can certainly allow those resources to be deployed", said the Public Information Officer with the Oregon State Fire Marshal, Rich Hoover. "But that's about it".