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One acre lost per second: Winds drive deadly flames in California

John McColgan | USDA | Public Domain
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Over 1,000 firefighters still battling the blaze. Many evacuees stuck in gridlock.

A brushfire which began in Steckel Park, just north of Santa Paula, has been spreading at a rapid pace into the town of Ventura. Thousands of acres have gone up in smoke due to the powerful Santa Ana winds, which originate from cool, dry high-pressure air masses in the Great Basin, and have been moving the fire with up to 60 mph winds. The fire has consumed about 45,000 acres of land in just 13 hours.

YouTube videos are being posted, and they show the evacuation of Ventura: deadlocked traffic as many of the 100,000 residents attempt to leave the city, and find themselves slowed to a crawl. The landscape is lit by the powerful inferno that in places threatens the very roads they drive on.

CNN reports that the fire began at 6:30 pm on Monday. By early Tuesday morning, it was spreading at a speed of an acre per second. 27,000 residents are under mandatory evacuation protocol, but many more are fleeing the area as reports claim the fire could spread deeper into the city. There has been one confirmed fatality due to an overturned car.

Early Tuesday morning, the fire burned through power lines and left more than a quarter-million people without electricity. The grid has since been repaired, but more than 20,000 remain without power.

The late-night origin of the fire made it difficult for authorities to stem the fast moving blaze. About 1,000 firefighters are still at work, trying to put an end to this natural disaster before more homes or lives are lost.

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