On Monday evening, a fire started in the foothills north of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California, near Thomas Aquinas College. Fed by strong winds of up to 50 miles per hour, it soon grew to hundreds then thousands of acres, forcing evacuations and leaving more than 260,000 customers without power in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. By early Tuesday, the Thomas fire had spread to the city of Ventura. One person has been reported killed in a traffic accident on a road closed because of the flames.
Fire officials expected it will burn at least 50,000 acres between Ventura and Santa Paula.
This has already been the worst year ever recorded for wildfires in California, the Los Angeles Times reports. More than 40 people were killed in October alone as a series of devastating wildfires swept through wine country north of San Francisco.