Fires are spreading in two different areas in California, one spreading to more than 6,000 acres as of Thursday afternoon.
The main fire spread about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles as hundreds of firefighters tried to stop it.
Evacuation orders included the smoke-choked campus of California State University, according to the Associated Press.
The area is at the western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, which abruptly descend to a coastal plain. It was possible the flames could burn all the way to the Pacific Ocean, about 10 miles from the start point.
The fire started around 6:45 a.m. near the Camarillo Springs exit of the 101 freeway.
Freddy Aoygio watched flames creep to within about 30 feet of her back door in the Camarillo Springs area. She had packed important papers and photos in her car in case she was ordered to leave. “We’ll keep our fingers and toes crossed,” she told the Ventura County Star. “That’s all we can do.”
State fire officials have issued a red flag warning, which means areas within danger from any of the fires could be evacuated.
They also announced that a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway is closed down, between Las Posas Rd. and the Ventura/LA County Line.
The California state fire map. The red icons are fires still not fully contained, including the largest one near L.A. (Screenshot/Google Maps)
“We’re at mother nature’s mercy right now,” county fire spokesman Tom Kruschke told KABC-TV.
Another fire that started yesterday in Banning, CA, has been 40 percent contained, according to the Riverside County Fire Department, but has spread to nearly 3,000 acres and could spread more with winds husting up to 40 miles per hour.
Fire officials told the Press-Enterprise that this is just the beginning of what could be a long season.
“Welcome to fire season, 2013,” Incident Commander Kevin Gains said. “These are winds we typically don’t see until October.”
“This is an early season fire that burned like it was in the fall,” Cal Fire Southern Division Chief Dale Hutchinson said.