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06 December 2017, 01:12 | Darnell Patrick
Raked by ferocious Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires on the edge of Los Angeles and in the foothills outside the city burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
"Due to the intensity of the fire, crews are having trouble making access and there are multiple reports of structures on fire".
Still, the fire authority was able to send a five-engine strike team with 22 firefighters and several helicopters to Ventura's Thomas Fire, which started Monday evening near Santa Paula and grew rapidly overnight. It reached the northern edge of Ventura, a city with a population of more than 100,000, by 2 a.m. The flames were driven by Southern California's dry and gusty Santa Ana winds, which have contributed to some of the region's most disastrous wildfires.
Evacuation orders were expanded to include houses in Ventura, which is 19km southwest and has 106,000 residents. "Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out".
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It is believed that the fire broke out close to Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, some 80km north of Los Angeles, early on Monday morning.
"The prospects for containment are not good", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told a late night news conference.
"We've been here nearly 30 years we've gone through floods, gone through fires, it's just the wind, you don't know where it's going to go", added Chula Casas.
Shelters have been set up a local school and county fairgrounds for evacuees.
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