California wildfires: Governor offers grim outlook

Gov. Jerry Brown has a sobering message for Southern Californians after a week of raging wildfires: This is your new ...

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 11:03 AM
Updated: Dec 11, 2017 11:03 AM

Gov. Jerry Brown has a sobering message for Southern Californians after a week of raging wildfires: This is your new normal.

A half dozen fires have collectively scorched nearly 200,000 acres since last week and destroyed 792 structures, according to officials.

NEW: The largest of the fires grows to 173,000 acres

Thousands of firefighters are working to contain the blazes

As 4,000 firefighters battled the largest one, the Thomas Fire, the governor surveyed the damage in Ventura County on Saturday.

"This is kind of the new normal," he said, adding that extreme fire activity will happen on a regular basis for decades.

"With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up," he said. "So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests ... in a place that's getting hotter."

Mother Nature was not offering any encouragement, either. Gusts from the Santa Ana winds are forecast to reach 55 mph Sunday. The winds had weakened slightly Saturday, giving firefighters a much-needed break after days of erratic conditions.

At least one death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire, which broke out in Ventura County on Monday. Authorities believe Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, died in a crash while fleeing the fire.

Latest developments

Setbacks: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said. It means that critical fire weather conditions are expected due to a combination of gusty winds and low humidity.

Progress: Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said firefighters are making a lot of progress, but there's still much to be done. "We're far from being out of the woods on any of them," he said.

Teamwork: Nearly 1,000 fire departments across California are involved in efforts to contain the blazes.

More help: The White House has approved California's request for direct federal assistance. President Donald Trump ordered FEMA and Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts in affected counties.

The fires

The six blazes vary in size.

Thomas Fire: It had scorched 173,000 acres by early Sunday, with about 15% of it contained. It started Monday in Ventura County, and has since spread into Santa Barbara County, making it the biggest in the Los Angeles area since the Bel-Air fire in 1961 torched the homes of the rich and famous. More than 4,400 people are battling the blaze, according to Cal Fire.

On Sunday morning, as the fire was advancing toward Montecito, residents of nearby Carpinteria could see ribbons of flames in the foothills, sending smoke curling into the sky. Water-dropping helicopters were helping fight the blaze alongside at least one hundred fire engines, some from as far away as Portland, Oregon.

Creek Fire: The second-largest blaze ignited a day later in neighboring Los Angeles County. It has burned 15,619 acres and is 90% contained.

Rye Fire: It broke out Tuesday in Los Angeles County and has burned 6,049 acres. Firefighters are making progress, with 90% of the blaze contained.

Lilac Fire: This fast-moving fire has consumed 4,100 acres since it ignited Thursday in San Diego County. Firefighters have regained control of it, and it's 60% contained.

Skirball Fire: It started Wednesday as a brush fire in Los Angeles County. It has burned 421 acres and is now 75% contained.

Liberty Fire: The blaze in Riverside County has burned 300 acres since it ignited Thursday. It's 100% contained, but authorities are monitoring it as winds pick up.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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