California wildfire larger than New York city

Los Angeles: The most destructive wildfire raging in southern California has expanded significantly, scorching an area bigger than New York City, stated fire officials.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has consumed 230,000 acres since it broke out on December 4, reports the BBC.

Fanned by strong winds, it has become the fifth largest wildfire in recorded state history after it grew by more than 50,000 acres in a day.

Residents in coastal beach communities have been ordered to evacuate.

On Sunday, firefighters reported that 15 per cent of the blaze had been contained but were forced to downgrade that to 10 per cent as it continued to spread.

“This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The other fires hitting California are largely controlled, but 200,000 people have evacuated their homes and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed since December 4.

Evacuation orders were issued overnight on Sunday for parts of Carpinteria close to Los Padres National Forest, about 160 km northwest of Los Angeles, the BBC reported.

California has spent the past week battling wildfires. Six large blazes, and other smaller ones.

The Thomas Fire – named according to where it started, near the Thomas Aquinas College – is by far the largest of the fires.

The authorities issued a purple alert – the highest level warning – amid what it called “extremely critical fire weather”, while US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency.

On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown described the situation as “the new normal” and predicted vast fires, fuelled by climate change, “could happen every year or every few years”.

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