Multiple fires are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed hundreds of structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.

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Ventura fire

Dramatic video shows firefighters combating wind and flames at Faria Beach

Firefighters battled growing, ferocious winds across the street from homes along the edge of Faria Beach in Ventura late Thursday morning.

The gusts kicked up flames on nearby palm trees and dry bushes. 

A police car drove up and down the road with a megaphone blaring: “mandatory evacuation” and “please go the other way, the road is closed.”

The winds were so intense that the trees lit like matchsticks. Monstrous plumes of brown smoke billowed overhead.

Residents immediately started watering their roofs with garden hoses while firefighters kept an eye out for the beach homes nearby. Others began using water to douse trees that had caught on fire.

Maurice Shimabuku, 67, said he was saddened to see most of the palm trees across from his home had been charred.  Shimabuku was among those watering their roofs to keep embers from igniting their homes, but a drop in pressure made it difficult for him to water the tree in the front.

“It was like shooting a water pistol on an elephant,” he said. 

He said this was the first time he was afraid of the danger winds could potentially create in his neighborhood.

“These were some freakish winds,” he said.

The fire sent rats running for their lives.

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