In Northern California, a destructive and fast-moving wildfire is causing widespread fatalities and devastation. Sports events have taken a back seat as schools closed and crowds rushed to evacuate entire towns.
According to news carried by KBJR6.com, Malibu schools shut down as families refugeed out, carrying children and pets to safety. Pepperdine University canceled classes Friday at its Malibu and Calabasas campuses. The Calabasas campus is also evacuated. To the west in Ventura County, Moorpark College is closed due to the impacts of fire and Wednesday night’s deadly mass shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks.
One of the areas displaced individuals (as well as on-duty first responders) headed was nearby sports destination Placer Valley. The Roseville Today newspaper carried news, including the issuance of smoke warnings and air quality advisories as well as weather reports. Malibu hotels were forced to evacuate. Some airlines are waiving change fees for flights to and from airports in the affected areas.
In the areas where the fires were a direct threat, California Lutheran University had already canceled Friday classes due to the shooting. Cal Lutheran said its Thousand Oaks campus were not under evacuation orders but residential students had been put on standby. The Thousand Oaks-area Conejo Valley Unified School District also closed all its schools.
The fires erupted Thursday afternoon and grew rapidly. One fire that broke out near the northeast corner of Los Angeles has roared westward, jumped U.S. 101 in the Calabasas area and qs surging up the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Washington Post noted that the National Weather Service had predicted dangerous fire weather in California because of Santa Ana winds, which roar in from the east and accelerate down California’s north-to-south-oriented mountain slopes. Red-flag warnings for “critical fire weather conditions” were in effect not only for the Sacramento Valley but also through Central and Southern California. Wind gusts of 50 mph were expected in many locations.
About 23.4 million Californians were under red-flag warnings Thursday into early Friday, after which the winds wre expected to ease, giving responders improving conditions for battling the blaze.
California has experienced debilitating fires of unprecedented regularity in the past few years. In August, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, eventually burning more than 400,000 acres. The previous record was set less than a year before in another catastrophic fire that burned through more than 280,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In October 2017, some 21 wildfires burned nearly 95,000 acres and 7,000 buildings in Sonoma and Napa counties in the heart of California’s wine country, killing 40 people.
The California Community Foundation listed a number of charities currently accepting donations and providing resources to assist those displaced by the fires.