LOS ANGELES — Wildfires in both Los Angeles County and Northern California’s wine country continued to burn Friday morning, with tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders, many schools closed and more than 50 houses or other buildings destroyed.
Here’s the latest:
- The Tick fire in northern Los Angeles County forced the evacuation of about 50,000 people.
- The Los Angeles Unified School District said it would close all of its schools in the San Fernando Valley on Friday because of “air-quality and safety concerns from the fires.”
- The brush fire broke out Thursday afternoon, and by Friday morning an estimated 3,000 acres with multiple structures were threatened, county fire officials said. At least six homes were destroyed.
- In Northern California, the Kincade fire in a rural part of northern Sonoma County led to evacuation orders for around 2,000 people and by Thursday evening had destroyed 49 homes or other buildings.
- The Kincade fire started Wednesday night, and has grown to at least 16,000 acres, officials said.
A man in the Santa Clarita area in Los Angeles County was stunned by the proximity of flames from the Tick fire on a ridge. “Whoa, Lord. What are we going to do?” the man, who identified himself as James, told NBC Los Angeles as the sky filled with a smoky haze.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this going on. Oh my goodness,” said the man, who has called the area home since 2006. “Wow. This is unbelievable. I’m about to leave — I can’t stay.”
That fire began at 1:42 p.m. near Tick Canyon Road in the Santa Clarita area, and numerous other fires have also broken out in the area, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
“Numerous homes have been burned,” Barger said, adding that officials know of at least six. “But that number may rise,” she said.
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More than 500 firefighters were working to combat the blaze Thursday as sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts of 40 mph were recorded, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
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Early Friday morning, winds had picked up, with the National Weather Service reporting thatSanta Ana winds were gusting upwards of 45 to 55 mph across Los Angeles County and Ventura County to its north.
Osby urged people to stay aware even if they can’t see flames because there are plenty of hot spots. The fire was only 5 percent contained late Thursday night.
“If you have not been evacuated, stay vigilant,” Osby said at a Thursday night news conference. “These things can occur quickly,” he said.
The Kincade fire in the northern part of the state out broke out near the community of Geyserville, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.
The fire was 5 percent contained Thursday evening. Around 1,300 firefighters were on the line and that number was expected to increase Cal Fire Chief Mike Parkes said.
“Because of the terrain of the area, the crews had a difficult time getting around it early on, and the fire grew much more quickly in size,” Parkes said.
No injuries have been reported in either fire.
The threat of wildfires prompted utility company Pacific Gas & Electric to pre-emptively shut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of people on Northern California on Wednesday to try and stop power lines from sparking blazes.
PG&E said in a regulatory filing with the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday that it learned that a nearby transmission tower malfunctioned about seven minutes before the Kincade fire erupted Wednesday night.
The utility said it learned from preliminary findings that a “transmission level outage” happened on a 230,000-volt line in the area at 9:20 p.m. Cal Fire says the Kincade fire broke out at 9:27 p.m.
PG&E had shut off power to around 28,000 customers in Sonoma County, including in the Geyserville area where the fire began, but it did not de-energize transmission lines in the area.
“Those transmission lines were not de-energized because forecast weather conditions, particularly wind speeds, did not trigger the PSPS protocol,” PG&E said in a statement, referring to “public safety power shutoff,” the term used for the planned blackouts.
“The wind speeds of concern for transmission lines are higher than those for distribution,” the utility said in the statement.
The PG&E outages that began Wednesday were the second time in two weeks that the utility shut off power to large swaths of Northern California over fire risk.
In the first shutoff, power was cut to about 2 million people across northern and central California. In recent years, authorities have blamed electrical equipment for causing several deadly and destructive fires.
Weather conditions in Northern California eased by Thursday evening, and PG&E said that it had restored electricity to 84 percent of the 179,000 customers who had their power shut off.
But forecasters say another wind event could be in store for Northern California on Saturday evening.
Southern California Edison also was conducting preventive power outages. The utility company said Friday morning that roughly 29,000 customers were without power, with more than 10,300 of those in Los Angeles County, 7,436 in San Bernardino County and 4,768 in Ventura County.
Southern California Edison said on its website that 386,116 customers in Southern California were under consideration for blackouts under consideration as of 6 a.m. Friday.