by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- As of Wednesday, as many as 10 brutal wildfires were burning throughout the Golden State.
The latest information updated by state authorities showed in Northern California 5,000 firefighters are winning battle with the massive Kincade Fire, while in the Southland "extreme red flag warnings" are into effect in much of Ventura and Los Angeles counties for the first time ever.
The Kincade Fire erupted last Wednesday in Sonoma County, which is famed for its sprawling vineyards and superb wine. The fire scorched nearly 77,000 acres (more than 31,000 hectares), displaced tens of thousands of residents, consumed 57 homes, and is still 30 percent contained so far.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) said growth of the blaze had been controlled, but they have to monitor the situation carefully.
"Today's a transition day," said Jonathan Cox, spokesman for Cal Fire at press conference Wednesday evening. "If we are looking good as far as fire growth this time tomorrow morning, I feel like that cautious optimism will be solidified. If we're not, if we have explosive growth tonight, we have our work cut out for us."
The Getty Fire erupted two days ago near the famed Getty Museum near Hollywood that houses hundreds of millions of dollars in irreplaceable art and swept through some of the wealthiest enclaves in Los Angeles with more country clubs per mile than gas stations.
It also burned to within 3 km of the prestigious UCLA's Westwood campus, home to 45,500 students.
The fire roared through 745 acres by Wednesday night and torched or damaged more than a dozen homes and is still just 27 percent contained. Firefighters labored through the night to spray homes in the area and other neighborhoods to extinguish embers.
Evacuation orders were lifted in most areas as firefighters spent the last 12 hours putting out hot spots. They remain vigilant despite the fire being mostly under control, since wind advisories Wednesday forecast dangerous gusts that could rekindle the blaze.
Strong winds Wednesday fueled several new wildfires in Southern California.
A fast-growing fire, dubbed Easy Fire, broke out at 6:00 a.m. local time (1300 GMT) in Simi Valley and came within 100 yards (91 meters) of the historic Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in few hours.
It also put 6,500 homes in danger in nearby residential neighborhoods, forcing thousands of residents to flee. As of Wednesday night, 30,000 people were under mandatory evacuation as 1,000 firefighters battled the blaze and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft dropped water and fire-quelling Phos-Chek.
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said his men battled the flames hard in an effort to stop the fire from jumping Highway 23. Though the fire did eventually hop the highway, firefighters were able to stop the advance on the other side.
"Firefighters aggressively stood there and battled the flames," Lorenzen said with pride for his crew at a press conference.
The Hill Fire broke out in Jurupa Valley east of Los Angeles Wednesday morning, burning through 620 acres and initiating mandatory evacuations for residents of the Bravo Estates Mobile Home Park, according to Cal Fire.
Roughly 30 engine crews and 200 personnel on location fought to bring the blaze to 30 percent containment by nightfall. Los Angeles County's fire officials asked SoCal Edison to black out nearby power lines to prevent collapsed electric lines from sparking more fires. One resident sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital, while one house and one mobile home were damaged.
In Riverside County, the Dexter Fire started at noon in the Santa Ana River bottom near downtown Riverside. Amid extreme red flag fire warnings and bone-dry conditions, it torched 30 acres and threatened numerous homes before the authority partially contained it using 25 fire engines from the city and other aid resources. No injuries were reported after an evacuation order was issued.
The latest one is the Castlewood Fire, in Fullerton of Los Angeles County, which was ignited Wednesday evening. Though it is small by California standards, burning only 15 acres, it prompted evacuation orders as winds turned the blaze toward residential areas.
Moreover, Mureau Fire, Brea Dam Fire, Soledad Fire, Brea Fire, Whittier Fire and Water Fire, which all burned over less than 20 acres, remained active Wednesday night.