SANTA PAULA, California — Pushed by powerful Santa Ana winds, a Southern California fire spread with explosive speed to 10,000 acres on Monday night, forcing hundreds to evacuate in the dark.
One person died in a rollover car crash while trying to evacuate from the fire, said Mark Lorenzen, Ventura County Fire chief in a press briefing Monday night.
More than 1,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation as fire officials warned that the powerful winds could turn the flames toward the city of Santa Paula and Ventura. Officials warned that they expected the fire to impact East Ventura early Tuesday.
At least two structures have been lost in the fire, Lorenzen said.
Ventura County Sheriff deputies were knocking on doors, telling residents to evacuate in the affected areas.
The fire also burned down power lines, causing widespread outages in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Susan Cox, spokeswoman for Southern California Edison said. More than 260,000 people in the two counties were without power.
The brush fire, called the Thomas Fire, was reported at Steckel Park, which is just north of Santa Paula, according to initial reports to the Ventura County Fire Department. It ignited as officials had earlier warned of extreme fire danger in the area due to the Santa Ana winds, blowing as fast as 40 to 60 mph.
Within a few hours, the fire jumped to thousands of acres as it engulfed dry chaparral and climbed through steep terrain.
The massive fires glowed orange on hills, as affected residents in Santa Paula hurled a few of their belongings into their cars as they prepared to evacuate, as seen in CNN affiliate videos.
Officials shut Route 150, between Ojai and Santa Paula, due to the fires. All students at the Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula were also evacuated Monday night, the school tweeted.
Two evacuation centers were opened for residents who had to leave their homes.