A dangerous wildfire has started in the Bel Air area of Los Angeles, California, as firefighters battle three other fires across Southern California.
The latest wildfire reached the side of the busy Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains. It stopped car traffic.
Hundreds of firefighters fought the fire on the ground and planes dropped water and retardant from above.
Firefighters told Bel Air local Maurice Kaboud to leave his home Wednesday. But, he chose to stay and protect his house. The 59-year-old stood in the backyard of his multi-million-dollar home as fires raged nearby.
“God willing, this will slow down so the firefighters can do their job,” Kaboud said.
Southern California’s Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the area’s most disastrous wildfires. The winds blow from inland toward the Pacific Ocean. They gain speed through mountain passes and valleys.
The biggest and most destructive of Southern California’s wildfires is in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. It now covers over 262 square kilometers and stretches across a major highway. The fire had already destroyed at least 150 structures. But many more homes may have already been lost.
Lisa Kermode and her children returned to their home Tuesday to find it destroyed. Kermode said, “We lost everything, everything, all our clothes, anything that was important to us. All our family heirlooms — it’s not sort of gone, it’s completely gone.”
Another 12,000 structures were under threat.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the strong winds had created a dangerous situation. The city urged 150,000 people living near the fire to leave their homes before it was too late.
Two months ago, a wildfire in northern California killed 44 people.
“We have lost structures, we have not lost lives,” Garcetti said. “Do not wait. Leave your homes.”
The latest fire has stopped production of several television shows because of safety concerns. The Los Angeles Rams football team also canceled its practice.
Wildfires are not normal in Southern California this time of year. But they can start suddenly when there is too little rain, combined with the Santa Ana winds.
Almost no measurable rain has fallen in the area over the past six months.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news reports. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
retardant - adj. able to slow down the progress of something
rage - v. to happen or continue in a destructive way
contribute - v. to help to cause something to happen
heirloom - n. a valuable object that is owned by a family for many years and passed from one generation to another