50,000 acres scorched as Thomas Fire rages in Ventura

Updated: 3:45 am

About 27,000 people have been evacuated in Ventura as the Thomas Fire continues to spread. High winds have helped the fire move quickly across more than 45,000 acres, destroying 150 structures.

Gov. Brown has declared a state of emergency. “This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” he said in a statement. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which currently has 500-600 evacuees on site. Shelter manager Nancy Jenkins told KCRW that people are still coming. “This was significantly larger than any shelter we’ve had in the last couple of years.”

At the shelter, Letha Harrison, a caretaker who evacuated along with the elderly couple she cares for, described the night: “Ashes were blowing everywhere, embers, the smoke was extremely thick.”

“I’m scared,” she said, fearing for her home.

There are also two other fires burning  in Southern California:  The Creek Fire, which has spread to 4,000 acres; and the Rye Fire.

Go here for live updates from the LA Times.

Downtown Ventura. Photo: Jonathan Bastian
Evacuees at the Red Cross shelter at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Photo: Kathryn Barnes