Firefighters face endless nights as flames spread across Southern California

World Today

In this Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire Department firefighters knock down flames as they advance on homes atop Shepherd Mesa Road in Carpinteria, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Firefighters in Southern California are racing to keep up with the spreading wildfires. Now state officials are ordering new evacuations across coastal communities.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman has more from one of those towns.

Fire broke out overnight when embers flew into the air, landed on the hillside, and sparked brush, spreading the wildfire’s flames in the hills near Los Angeles.

Even more homes are now at risk.

Bruce Blackwell lives near the base of the hillside. Along with his dog, he waited in his pickup truck as firefighters battle the blaze.

“Well that’s a bit of comfort right there,” he said as a fire truck arrived at his house. “I think that’s enough manpower there to do what they have to do.”

Up in the hills, there are pockets of fire and thick smoke. Crews are working on the ground and in the air, using helicopters to drop water directly onto the flames.


Firefighters are dealing with several active hot spots at the Thomas Fire. (PHOTO: Jim Spellman, CGTN via Twitter)

The intense flames have destroyed vehicles, buildings, and trees. But the firefighters worked throughout the night and were able to stop the fire from spreading further into nearby groves and homes.

“Fire came across that ridge, hot and heavy, and moved down into this community,” firefighter Michael Gallagher said. “And what you see here is really unfortunate, but if you turn around and see what these guys saved last night, it was amazing. What they did was amazing. They saved this entire community.”

Officials order evacuations in coastal city of Carpinteria as fires spread in Southern California. (PHOTO: Jim Spellman, CGTN via Twitter)

This is one of several fires raging throughout Southern California. More than 4,000 firefighters are battling this blaze alone, while more than 8,000 are fighting in total.

“I’m at 29 hours. Everyone here is at 28, 29 hours every other day,” Gallagher said. “We are exhausted, but we aren’t coming off until we are done.”

Winds are expected to die down Sunday evening. Firefighters hope that will give them the break they need to bring the flames under control.