Hundreds evacuated after massive brush-fire burns through parts of California

Brush fire explodes near Santa Paula CA

A brush fire roared into Southern California Monday evening, spreading overnight to 31,000 acres, destroying at least 150 structures, many of them homes, and forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate, the authorities said.

CBS News producer Sean Gallitz said he could see an nearly unbroken fire line burning ferociously along the top of the hill side from nearly 20 miles away from on the 101 freeway.

Further to the homes, the Santa Paula Unified School District announced Monday night that all schools in the city will be closed on Tuesday due to the blaze.

According to officials, the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula are also threatened. More than 27,000 people were evacuated and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.

Fire crews from Northern California were dispatched south, as Cal Fire moved 10 fire trucks and crews.to be pre-positioned to south of the Tehachapis. "Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out because it is pushing hard with the wind", Lorenzen said. The fire, named the Thomas Fire, began in a canyon north of the city of Santa Paula, about 65 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The Ventura Country Fire Department in California posted this image of the Thomas Fire pushing its way toward East Ventura late Monday

At least two structures have already burned and power outages have been reported across the county. But the Santa Ana winds could persist into Friday or Saturday, which would likely mean an extension of both warnings.

Four helicopters were making water drops to fight the fire but by 9:30 p.m. local time but were grounded after conditions were deemed unsafe for them to fly at night.

One person was killed in a vehicle crash while trying to evacuate from the fires, Ventura County Fire chief Mark Lorenzen said in a news conference, according to CNN.

Adding to the difficulty of fighting this fire, the National Weather Service predicts continued high winds and low humidity throughout the week.

The blaze broke out on Monday and quickly burned 4,000 hectares in hours, Ventura County Fire Sergeant Eric Buschow said.

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