Winds whipping Thomas Fire in Ventura County


SANTA PAULA, Calif. - UPDATE: 425 a.m.

The Thomas fire burning through Ventura County has reached more than 31,000 acres, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

It has burned into the city limits of Ventura and toward Highway 33. Firefighters said it is being pushed by strong eastern winds.

Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are expected to attack the fire at daybreak.

There are approximately 500 firefighters on scene.

7,786 homes are under evacuation orders.



Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up the explosive Thomas Fire wildfire, which forced more than 1,000 homes to evacuate. The Ventura County Fire Department's Public Information Officer confirmed one fatality related to the fire so far.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported at 10:39 p.m. Monday that the area consumed by the fire had jumped to 10,000 acres.

According to Southern California Edison, more than 260,000 customers in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are without power as of 11:00 p.m.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The flames reached nearly 8 square miles just hours later. Authorities say Ventura, a city of some 109,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire by 1:00 p.m.. Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated. The National Weather Service says winds of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue. Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear what they were.

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