The Thomas Fire located in Ventura County, California, has spread to over 2,500 acres on Monday evening. The fire is raging along Highway 150 just north of Santa Paula, according to the Los Angeles Times. It is moving eastward.
Fire officials do not know how this fire started.
Just about two hours ago, the Public Information Officer for the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted that there was a brushfire in Steckel Park. The initial report indicated that there were 50 acres “with a rapid rate of a spread” reported just before 6:30 p.m. Pacific time. Within two hours, the fire had spread to over 500 acres, the high winds in the area to blame. Now, fire officials say that over 2,500 acres are involved in this blaze.
Students at Thomas Aquinas College are being evacuated as a precaution as the fire continues to burn and doesn’t seem to be slowing any.
“A large brush fire has struck the area around Steckel Park, just south of the Thomas Aquinas College campus. As a precaution, all students are being evacuated to nearby homes. Please pray for the safety of all those affected,” the school posted on its website. The school then took to Twitter to post an update that everyone was safe.
Several homes and buildings in the area are also in danger at this time. According to ABC 7, a campground north of Santa Paula had also been evacuated as had some residents, “but no voluntary or mandatory evacuations were issued for residents within the city.”
Below is a map of the wind gusts in the area, which could top 70 mph in the overnight hours.
On Sunday, December 3, the National Weather Service in Los Angeles posted a warning about the severe wind conditions in Southern California.
“Damaging winds expected during the
#SantaAnaWinds coming to #SoCal, with the strongest winds over the mountains [Monday] night into Tue. Secure outdoor items, be wary of strong crosswinds on area roads,” read the update.
“This is exactly what we have prepared for. This is not a surprise by any means,” Ventura County Fire Capt. Stan Ziegler told the Los Angeles Times.
Firefighters are doing their best to keep people safe at this time. The following evacuation shelters have been set up to house those who need to evacuate.
Ventura County Fairgrounds at Miners Building at 10 W Harbor Blvd. in Ventura and Nordhoff High School at 1401 Maricopa Highway in Ojai.