Evacuations still in place as Southern California blaze grows to more than 10,000 acres


An air tanker drops retardant as the Maria Fire approaches Santa Paula, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. According to Ventura County Fire Department, the blaze has scorched more than 8,000 acres and destroyed at least two structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

SANTA PAULA, Ca. (CBS NEWS, AP) – Mandatory evacuations were still in place Saturday due to the Maria Fire, which is burning south of Santa Paula in Southern California. The fire started Thursday and has prompted evacuation orders for nearly 11,000 people.

The 10,720-acre fire first broke out on a hilltop northwest of Los Angeles. Flames could be seen for miles as the fire moved quickly through dry brush and trees, threatening a number of homes and forcing thousands to flee, CBS Los Angeles reported.

At least three homes have been destroyed in an area with a number of large properties, ranches and orchards. As of Saturday morning, the blaze was zero percent contained. Eastern Ventura, Camarillo, Somis and Santa Paula were at risk, Ventura County fire officials said.

Firefighters were finding it hard work as shifting winds made the front line a moving target. On Friday, a tug of war developed between onshore and offshore winds.

“It has been an uphill battle ever since,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. “As winds shift, we have a whole new fuel bed open up.”

The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but there was a troubling possibility that an electrical line might have been involved – as such lines have been at other recent fires. Southern California Edison said Friday it re-energized a 16,000-volt power line 13 minutes before the fire erupted in the same area.

A Red Flag Warning was scheduled to be in effect for the area until 6 p.m. Saturday with widespread elevated fire weather conditions due to low humidity levels, warm weather during the days and persistent winds.

In Northern California, more people were allowed to return to areas evacuated due to the huge Kincade Fire burning for days in the Sonoma County wine country. The 121-square-mile fire was 72% contained on Saturday, officials said. The tally of destroyed homes reached 175 and many other structures also burned.

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