“It looked like a volcano up there”: Maria Fire threatens Southern California


The Maria Fire moves down a hill in Santa Paula, California, U.S. November 1, 2019.

(CBS) — Santa Paula, California – Ventura County officials say firefighters contained 30% of the Maria Fire, which has burned nearly 15 square miles and continues to threaten more than 2,500 homes and other buildings. All evacuation orders were lifted Saturday afternoon, CBS Los Angeles reported.

All Red Cross shelters and animal shelters are in the process of being demobilized and no overnight evacuation shelters are available at this time.

The officials said the humidity is expected to stay low and winds will be more favorable to firefighting in Southern California.

The fire began Thursday during what had been expected to be the tail end of Santa Ana winds that fanned destructively across Southern California.

The fire has burned more than 9,000 acres, threatening the area’s tens of millions of dollars’ worth of avocado and lemon crops, CBS News’ Danya Bacchus reported.

“It looked like a volcano up there, everything was all igniting, all the tree lines and brush, it really looked like a volcano. The ash was going everywhere,” Saticoy resident Mike Holwick told CBS News.

While the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, Southern California Edison reported Friday that it had re-energized a high-voltage power line minutes before a nearby hilltop exploded into a blaze.

Edison had earlier turned off the line due to heavy winds.

California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, has been critical of the move by PG&E – calling for a restructuring of the already bankrupt utility.

“We have world class firefighters doing world class work every single day and I couldn’t be more proud of them, but we don’t have world class utilities,” Newsom said.

In Northern California, an emergency order that forbids residents reentering the area of the Kincade Fire from cleaning their property has been issued by the Sonoma County Health Officer, CBS San Francisco reported.

“The burnt remains of building materials, such as siding, roofing tiles and insulation results in dangerous ash that may contain asbestos, heavy metals and other materials that are hazardous to health,” according to a news release from Dr. Celeste Philip.

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