Sunday, 17 December 2017

California wildfires : Santa Barbara evacuated




Thousands of California residents have fled their homes as the third-largest wildfire in the state's history rages on.
 
As the fire spreads towards the wealthy enclave of Montecito, celebrity homeowners shared their fears over the approaching wildfires.
 
 
Asking his followers to "pray for Santa Barbara", actor Rob Lowe shared a photo showing his home surrounded by towering flames and smoke.


Next to another picture of trees blowing in the wind in front of a red, flame-filled sky, he wrote: "Horror and beauty."


Under another picture showing him helping firefighters push back the flames, Lowe wrote: "Helping earlier today. You do what you can, but when it's time.. you GO."





Winds of up to 60mph have fed the wildfires tearing through the state - with mandatory evacuation orders put in place across Montecito, neighbouring Summerland and a portion of Santa Barbara.


Other celebrities forced to flee the fashionable coastal foothills northwest of Los Angeles including Chrissy Teigen, Paris Hilton and Chelsea Handler.


Thanking the firefighters risking their lives, Hilton tweeted: "This wildfire in LA is terrifying! My house is now being evacuated to get all of my pets out of there safely."


The 404-square-mile fire - named the "Thomas Fire" - has been moving rapidly westward north of Montecito, home to Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and other celebrities.


Winfrey tweeted: "Still praying for our little town. Winds picked up this morning creating a perfect storm of bad for firefighters."


Workers at the Santa Barbara Zoo began preparing their animals for evacuation - warning members of the public not to assist but to stay safe themselves.


The fire - which has been burning for over two weeks - is now the third-largest in California's history, burning more than 700 homes and killing a firefighter.


 A Hot Shot crew climbs a hill while cutting a line among homes at the Thomas Fire on December 16, 2017 in Montecito, California. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings of dangerous fire weather in Southern California for the duration of the weekend. Prior to the weekend, Los Angeles and Ventura counties had 12 consecutive days of red flag fire warnings, the longest sustained period of fire weather warnings on record. The Thomas Fire is currently the fourth largest California


Pierre Henry, a Montecito bakery owner, said he received a text to evacuate on Saturday morning as the fire approached homes.


"The worst was the smoke," he said.


"You couldn't breathe at all and it became worse when the wind started. All the ashes and the dust on the street were in the air. It was very, very frightening."


Authorities say the fire has burned another six square miles of vegetation.


California Governor Jerry Brown said the wildfires ravaging his state should serve as a warning to parts of the world threatened by climate change.


"The important fact is that these fires are going to become a very frequent occurrence. That's what the science is telling us," Mr Brown said.


"It's a real indicator of bad things to come, and hopefully will serve to wake up people who right now are too complacent."


Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson added: "It's a beast... but we will kill it."
burnt out house is seen after the Skirball wildfire swept through the exclusive enclave of Bel Air, California on December 7, 2017. Local emergency officials warned of powerful winds on December 7 that will feed wildfires raging in Los Angeles, threatening multi-million dollar mansions with blazes that have already forced more than 200,000 people to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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