The hot, dry Santa Ana winds whipping up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.
The combination of savage Santa Anas and tinder-dry plants have ignited large wildfires in the region this week, upending lives at a time when many people were preparing for the winter holidays, officials said.
It served as a reminder that parts of California increasingly face a year-round threat of flames.
“There is no fire season anymore,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLain, adding that this was particularly true in Southern California.
In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire has scorched more than 90,000 acres some 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles and destroyed 150 homes since breaking out on Monday. Three other wildfires are also raging in and around Los Angeles.
The Santa Anas, winds that rush through California’s coastal mountains, foothills and canyons from deserts to the east, will blow hard again on Thursday and Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Smith. Gusts of up to 60 miles per hour are forecast.