The Latest: Wildfire threatens homes in Southern California
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):
A new wildfire is threatening homes in Southern California even as crews finish mopping up a series of blazes that threatened homes and forced thousands to evacuate.
The new fire erupted Thursday evening on South Mountain in the Santa Paula area north of Los Angeles.
Ventura County fire officials say it quickly grew to over a square mile (3 square kilometers) and is threatening the unincorporated community of Somis, which has about 3,000 residents.
Evacuations have been called for a few nearby streets in the hilly area, where gusts are fanning the flames even as the winds ease in other areas of Southern California.
Hundreds of firefighters aided by helicopters and bulldozers are battling the flames and some are protecting homes.
Pacific Gas & Electric says it’s restored power to nearly all the hundreds of thousands of people it blacked out earlier this week.
The state’s largest utility left vast areas of Northern and central California in the dark this week to keep high winds from damaging electrical equipment and causing wildfires.
PG&E official Mark Quinlan says this time, crews found more than 150 instances of damage, ranging from broken power poles to tree branches flung into the lines. Quinlan says any one could have sparked a devastating wildfire.
PG&E has faced furious criticism for enacting widespread power outages three times this week.
The winds eased Wednesday, and on Thursday PG&E said only about 13,000 people remained without power and they should have electricity back by day’s end.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for a small brush fire sparked by a stolen car at the end of a police chase in Southern California.
Officials say the 300-acre blaze in Jurupa Valley east of Los Angeles on Thursday destroyed three homes and two outbuildings before firefighters got a handle on it.
The stolen-car suspects could face arson charges.
Meanwhile, residents who fled a wildfire in San Bernardino could begin returning Thursday evening. That fire scorched 200 acres of dry brush along a freeway and damaged at least eight buildings.
No injuries are reported from either fire.
Winds that fed flames across the state are mostly dying down. But forecasters have extended Red Flag warnings for fire danger in some mountain and valley areas of Southern California.
Officials say about 1,800 Sonoma County staff, or more than the half the county’s whole staff, worked to help evacuate residents and deal with emergency services, communications and other needs after the Northern California county declared a state of emergency because of wildfire.
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reports that the county set up 20 evacuation shelters that housed as many as 3,100 people at a time at shelters offering services including child support, counseling, homeless outreach and early voting. The county also set up an emergency operations center.
The Sonoma County Board reviewed its operations at an emergency board meeting Thursday.
The Northern California wine country county has been aggressive about its disaster response preparation in the wake of a series of devastating wildfires that killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes two years ago.
This item has been corrected to say that 1,800 Sonoma county staff worked through the fire incident, not half that number.
Progress is being made in the battle against two Southern California wildfires that burned homes and forced evacuations.
Firefighters are working on hotspots in the cities of San Bernardino and Jurupa Valley east of Los Angeles, but the towering flames that sent residents fleeing early Thursday have vanished.
To the northwest, all remaining evacuations have ended at a Ventura County fire that erupted before dawn Wednesday and swirled around the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as it burned between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark.
Evacuation orders have also been lifted for all but 10 streets in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles where a fire burned homes on Monday.
More than 350,000 Californians statewide remain without power as part of an effort by utility companies to prevent their equipment from sparking deadly wildfires.
As furious winds died down Thursday, the utilities are inspecting power lines and working to restore power.
Northern California has seen a series of unprecedented power shut-offs this month and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says 42,000 customers, or more than 100,000 people, remain without power in 10 counties.
Southern California also has been hit with wildfires and more than 100,000 customers of Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are still in the dark. That’s about 250,000 people.
Authorities say suspects driving a stolen car during a police chase pulled their damaged vehicle into a field and ignited the new Southern California wildfire that prompted evacuations in the city of Jurupa Valley.
Riverside Police spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback says Thursday that two suspects who were arrested will be charged with arson, and addition other offenses.
The blaze has destroyed three homes and two outbuildings and spans 300 acres (121 hectares).
Railsback says the chase lasted 3 to 4 miles (5 to 6 kilometers) shortly after midnight Thursday before the suspects abandoned the damaged vehicle and tried to run away before being caught.
He says the heat from the vehicle and its tires caused the fire but did not provide more details.
Both suspects had outstanding felony arrest warrants.
Officials say a wildfire burning in Northern California’s wine country that forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people is now 60% contained and has not increased in size since Wednesday.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Thursday that firefighting crews working through the night increased their control of the fire from 45% containment.
The fire started last week near the town of Geyserville in Sonoma County north of San Francisco and has scorched about 120 square miles (311 square kilometers). It has destroyed 141 homes and threatens 90,000 structures.
Most of those evacuated after the fire started last week have been allowed to return home.
Authorities say a wind-driven wildfire fire in San Bernardino, California, has destroyed or damaged six homes and two outbuildings.
San Bernardino County Fire Chief Don Trapp says about 500 homes have been evacuated since the fire started in foothills before dawn Thursday and winds drove it down into the city.
The 200-acre (80-hectare) blaze is one of two new wildfires burning in the inland region east of Los Angeles.
In the nearby city of Jurupa Valley, an early morning blaze has grown to 150 acres (60 hectares). It has destroyed three homes and forced evacuations.
Forecasters expect winds to continue on and off through the day before fading away in the evening.
Firefighters are battling two fires in the inland region east of Los Angeles as strong winds sweep parts of California.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department says an estimated 490 homes and 1,300 people are under evacuation orders Thursday morning on the northern edge of the city of San Bernardino adjacent to wildland areas.
At least four homes have been seen burning as the fire has grown to 200 acres (80 hectares).
In neighboring Riverside County, three homes and two outbuildings have been destroyed by a 75-acre (30-hectare) fire.
Firefighters have ordered evacuations.
A new wildfire has broken out in California, this one in San Bernardino. It has torched at least four homes and forced evacuations.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department says the blaze was reported early Thursday along Highway 18 at Lower Waterman Canyon.
Aerial video from Sky7 showed at least four homes on fire, and more than 200 acres have reportedly burned.
Authorities ordered evacuations for the Northpark neighborhood and all areas in north San Bernardino west of Highway 18, according to media reports.
No other information was immediately available.
Santa Ana winds are expected to linger for a final day after driving more than a dozen wildfires through California, sending thousands fleeing and burning nearly up to the walls of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Firefighters managed to tamp down or at least partially corral fires that for the past few days surged through tinder-dry brush in both the north and south, destroying dozens of homes.
But much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties remain under a National Weather Service red flag warning of extreme fire danger through Thursday evening because of bone-dry humidity and the chance of winds gusting to 70 mph (112 kph) in the mountains.
Fire crews worked through the night to make sure a fire that burned dangerously near the Reagan library Wednesday and prompted thousands to flee doesn’t re-erupt.
Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles, Amy Taxin in Jurupa Valley and Stefanie Dazio in Thousand Oaks contributed