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California Wildfire Hops Highway, Nears Ocean


UPDATE 11:50 p.m.: (AP) -  The biggest and most destructive wildfire burning in Southern California has jumped U.S. Highway 101, nearly reaching the ocean and forcing new evacuations.

Fire officials said earlier Tuesday that keeping the fire north of the major highway linking coastal California cities was one of their objectives.

However, the flames crossed the 101 around 8 p.m. at the rocky and sparsely populated Solimar beach, which is northwest of the densely populated city Ventura.

While people in the area had to evacuate, state fire officials say the lack of vegetation softens the blow of the fire crossing the highway.

The blaze has burned 85 square miles, destroyed at least 150 structures and forced the evacuation of nearly 30,000 people since it broke out Monday.

UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Ventura County, location of the largest of wildfires currently burning in the state.

The fire 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles ignited Monday evening near the city of Santa Paula.

Winds have pushed it west into the city of Ventura, where homes continued to burn Tuesday afternoon.

The governor says the fire is very dangerous and residents must be ready to evacuate if told to do so.

His emergency declaration sets in motion state firefighting assistance to local governments and suspends rules that might hinder recovery efforts after the fires are put out.

UPDATE 1:08 p.m.: An unusually bad year for California wildfires has seen more than 1 million acres burn so far in 2017.

The latest data released Tuesday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection covers land under both state and federal protection. The total area burned in the state this year is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

The figures released this week don't include the wind-driven wildfires currently raging in Southern California.

State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott has told lawmakers that climate change is spawning more and bigger wildfires. Blazes on land under CAL FIRE's protection this year have burned more than twice the recent five-year average.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: A wind-driven wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles is blanketing a huge swatch of the city with thick dirty smoke, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay inside and refrain from strenuous physical activity.

Billowing clouds of black and grey smoke erupting from the fire spread quickly across the region Monday, fouling air across the city's San Fernando Valley and drifting to the beachfront communities of Malibu and Santa Monica.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the air far dirtier, and more health-threatening, than any the city sees during even its worst smog days.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory for Los Angeles County's 10 million residents. People are urged to stay inside and filter the air with their air conditioners.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m.: Authorities estimate a wind-driven Southern California wildfire has grown to more than 45,000 acres with no containment.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says the fire grew exponentially early Tuesday after breaking out Monday evening about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Lorenzen says more than 150 structures have burned. The fire is burning west toward the city of Ventura.

Another fire burning on the northern edge of Los Angeles is estimated at nearly

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson says numerous structures are burning Tuesday morning, but he has no specific numbers.

More than 400 firefighters and 50 fire engines are on the scene near the Lakeview Terrace and Sylmar neighborhoods.

(AP) — A wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California has scorched 48 square miles, destroyed 150 structures and left one firefighter injured, and officials say winds are increasing.

Authorities say the blaze broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

By early Tuesday, more than 27,000 people have been evacuated. It wasn't clear if the structures burned were homes or businesses. There was no immediate word on the extent of the firefighter's injury.

Earlier, evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

Southern California Edison says nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without service.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says there's also a new fire on the north edge of the city that is threatening portions of the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods.

The department says evacuations are now being coordinated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The fires are being spread by the region's notorious Santa Ana winds. Meteorologists say it's the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season.

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