Smoke from four wildfires raging across Southern California has resulted in unhealthy air quality across the San Fernando Valley, along with coastal areas and surrounding portions of Los Angeles County.
All people in those areas should avoid unnecessary outdoor exposure and limit all physical exertion, said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county's interim health officer.
“It is difficult to tell where ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of dust particles in the air, so we ask all individuals to be aware of their immediate environment and take actions to safeguard their health,” Gunzenhauser said.
Cal State Northridge cancelled classes today amid the high winds and growing fire danger.
The campus is several miles west of the Creek Fire zone. That fire destroyed at least 30 homes and burned 12,000 acres.
In anticipation of the heavy winds, all Los Angeles Unified schools in the San Fernando Valley as well as 17 schools on the city’s Westside will be closed for the rest of the week, district officials said Wednesday afternoon.
A red-flag warning has been extended through Saturday across much of Southern California as firefighters struggle to get a handle on several wildfires raging across the region.
The warning, which indicates extreme fire danger because of gusty winds and low humidity, will be in effect through Saturday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where fires have scorched more than 80,000 acres and destroyed many homes.
Communities both on the coast and inland were under threat from the Thomas fire. At 4 a.m., officials closed the 101 Freeway between Routes 126 and 150. According to the California Highway Patrol, that left no open routes between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The Thomas fire has scorched about 90,000 acres and carved a path of destruction that stretches more than 10 miles from Santa Paula to the Pacific Ocean.
As flames raged toward neighborhoods in Ojai, Carpinteria and Fillmore, officials issued new evacuation orders in Ojai Valley, notifying residents with an emergency cellphone alert. Authorities said they were helping residents of five assisted-living facilities evacuate, while people at Ojai Hospital were advised to shelter in place.
UCLA students are expressing their unhappiness with the way the university’s administration has handled communications about the Skirball fire at a time when students are preparing for final exams.
The Undergraduate Students Assn. Council and Graduate Students Assn. started a petition that has been signed by more than 10,000 individuals and will be sent to administrators Thursday.
Wednesday was “a day of great anxiety, tumult and stress for us all. Despite fearing for our safety, we were left in a state of constant limbo by the University, its staff and faculty,” the petition states. “Students were expected to decide between fulfilling academic and employment responsibilities and putting themselves in harm’s way — a decision no student should ever have to make.”
As four major fires burn throughout Southern California, many residents face mandatory evacuations.
The brush fires move quickly. A small flame can grow out of control in 30 seconds, and temperatures can reach 600 degrees at eye level, according to Ready LA, a city website for emergency preparedness.
Carole Nolte, owner of Co.min.gle, a novelty shop on Main Street in Ventura, took refuge in her store Wednesday afternoon so she could charge her smartphone. She wasn’t open for business but took advantage of working electricity in her shop.
Her condo, a two-minute walk away, has been without power since Monday night, a couple of hours before she was forced to evacuate because of the Thomas fire. The blaze came within about 200 feet of her home, but the condo was left unscathed.
Since then, Nolte has been waiting for the electricity to be restored to her home. She’s unsure when that will be but is trying to make the most of it until then.
On Little Tujunga Canyon Road at the Wildlife Waystation, staff members worked on little sleep to keep the wild and exotic animal sanctuary — and its residents — safe.
Martine Colette, founder of the Wildlife Waystation, kept her walkie-talkie close while she worked Wednesday, as firetrucks rolled in and out of the parking lot. Smoke billowed from the mountains nearby, sending ash through the air. Firefighters continued to put out spot fires throughout Wednesday.
Colette, who lives in a home at the center of the facility, woke up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to see the fire blazing nearby. She and her staff immediately began working to ensure the animals didn’t burn in their enclosures.