Wildfires Tear Across Southern California; Thousands Flee

Flames from a wildfire loom up over a neighborhood in Santa Paula, Calf., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Ventura County fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, a city of 30,000 people about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. (Megan Diskin/The Ventura County Star via AP)

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) – A wildfire fanned by strong winds in Southern California grew to over 45,000 acres Tuesday, prompting residents of the coastal city of Ventura to flee as the fire burned into the city limits.

The Thomas Fire started Monday evening at Highway 150 near Santa Paula, northeast of the city of Ventura, according to Cal Fire. The blaze exploded in size overnight with the help of strong Santa Ana winds. The Ventura County Fire Department reported one firefighter has been injured.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire was at zero percent containment.

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency for Ventura County on Tuesday morning.

“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, firefighters work to put out a blaze burning homes early Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Ventura, Calif. Authorities said the blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades. (Ryan Cullom/Ventura County Fire Department via AP)

The fire has so far destroyed about 150 structures and threatens another 3,000. Many other buildings have been damaged in the fire area, according to the Venture County Fire Department.

Mandatory evacuations are also up for residents of Casita Springs and East Ojai Valley.

Meanwhile, in the San Fernando Valley a brush fire broke out in the Angeles National Forest and moved into Sylmar in Los Angeles County early Tuesday. The Creek Fire had burned 11,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The Creek Fire has prompted mandatory evacuations for areas north of the 210 freeway in Sylmar. A voluntary evacuation is in place for Sayre to the Interstate 5-Interstate 14 split.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a local state of emergency as a result of the Creek Fire on Tuesday afternoon, which directs city departments to take all necessary steps to protect life and property in the area affected by the fire. The declaration also requests Brown to declare an emergency for the Sylmar area, so that state and federal assistance can be provided to the city quickly.

Smoke rises behind a leveled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Over 100 structures have burned so far in Ventura County, officials said. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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