In what can only be described as a scene from the most graphic volcano horror story, the residents of Southern California are racing for safety to avoid a fiery demise. Officials in Los Angeles County have issued an "extreme fire danger" warning urging residents to evacuate.
"The fires compounded the suffering of what has already been one of the state’s worst fire seasons on record, including the blazes that ravaged the wine country north of San Francisco in October. The new outbreaks have forced nearly 200,000 people in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas to evacuate, officials said, and extremely high winds are likely to make matters worse on Wednesday night and Thursday.
Fire season usually peaks in October in California, but officials suggested that with climate change, more fires are occurring later in the year.“These are days that break your heart,” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said at a news conference.
“These are also days that show the resilience of our city.”
It was a day in which smoke from the fires ringing the region could be spotted from the Santa Monica Pier, the streets of downtown and the beaches of Santa Catalina Island. And in a city where residents live outdoors, many stayed home to avoid the foul air.
By Wednesday evening, the fire in Bel-Air consumed at least 475 acres and a handful of structures, small figures compared with some of the other blazes. But in such a densely populated area, the prospect of warm, dry Santa Ana winds whipping the flames into other neighborhoods had many residents of Los Angeles’ west side preparing for possible evacuation. Officials ordered 700 homes in Bel-Air evacuated.A gray-brown pall, tinted orange in places, hung across a region that is home to millions of people, and the regional air quality agency warned that the air posed a health hazard in places.At least four houses burned in hilly Bel-Air, where sprawling villas costing tens of millions of dollars are home to celebrities and other wealthy Angelenos."
Some residents chose to try and fight the flames, save possessions and family pets. Others chose to leave everything in the hands of God, take important papers, and flee. The Bel-AIr neighborhood, where Beyonce and Jennifer Aniston have homes, is also in danger as surrounding houses are engulfed in flames. More than 1,000 firefighters are risking their lives to save the burning city and at least three have had to seek medical attention.
Edward Aguilar runs through flames to save his cats near his mobile home in Casita Springs, California.
Brave motorists drove over the expressway on their way to safety and had to pass by a hillside engulfed in flames. One of them was able to capture the ordeal on video.
Let's keep the residents of Southern California in our prayers. If you've got family members in the area, or are in the area yourself, check in down in the comments so that we all know you're safe.