- Kincade Fire: 76,825 acres burned; 30% contained
- Getty Fire: 745 acres burned; 27% contained
- The Easy Fire broke out Wednesday morning and has burned about 1,300 acres
- About 365,000 homes and businesses were without electricity after Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to millions of people in an effort to prevent new blazes
- The National Weather Service issued its first-ever “extreme red flag warning” for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties
- Southern California Edison shut off power to more than 68,000 homes and businesses
A fast-moving brush fire broke out Wednesday morning northwest of Los Angeles. The Easy Fire had burned about 1,300 acres, the Ventura County Fire Department said on Twitter.
The fire was burning near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The fire department told CBS Los Angeles it had evacuated the library.
The fire ignited as Southern California was facing an extreme fire danger due to strong winds. Red flag warnings were in effect across California.
For the first time ever, an “extreme red flag warning” was in effect in Southern California for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Gusts as high as 80 mph are expected, and the winds could spread flames from the Getty Fire.
In Northern California, the massive Kincade Fire has grown to more than 76,000 acres. By Wednesday morning, it was 30% contained and had damaged or destroyed about 200 homes and other buildings. The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, said about 365,000 homes and businesses were without power after the utility cut electricity to some areas to avoid starting new wildfires.
Follow below for live updates
California wildfires map
About a dozen wildfires were burning throughout California.
“Extreme red flag warning” issued in Southern California
In Southern California, the National Weather Service issued its first-ever “extreme red flag warning” for much of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The warning predicts “damaging wind gusts between 50 and 70 mph,” isolated gusts that could hit 80 mph and extremely low humidity.
“This all adds up to an extreme fire weather threat, meaning that conditions are as dangerous for fire growth and behavior as we have seen in recent memory,” the weather service said in its warning, which lasts until 6 p.m. Thursday.
Southern California Edison said Wednesday it shut off power to more than 68,000 homes and businesses amid the most powerful Santa Ana wind event of the season descending on the area.
Wine country wildfire visible from San Francisco
The massive Kincade Fire in Northern California’s wine country, in Sonoma County, can now be seen all the way from San Francisco. And the high winds that were forecast are indeed back, CBS San Francisco reported:
Three reports of looting in Northern California as Kincade Fire grows
Officials in Northern California have received three additional reports of looting as the Kincade Fire rages, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said at a Tuesday press conference. The looting was discovered when residents returned to their homes and businesses and found items missing. No arrests have been made.
“The Sheriff’s Office is doing everything we can to get you back into your homes,” Essick said. “We realize the anxiety there.”
Three people were arrested earlier in the week for unauthorized entry into evacuation zones.
The Kincade Fire grew to 76,138 acres by 6:30 p.m. local time, said Cal Fire representative Jonathan Cox. Some 189 structures were destroyed, 86 of which were single-family homes.
The blaze was still only 15% contained as of Tuesday evening. Cox said that after the major wind event predicted for Tuesday night subsides, he expects containment to rise.
PG&E workers face threats, assault during fire prevention efforts
PG&E employees have been subject to verbal and physical assaults while working to prevent wildfires, PG&E president and CEO Bill Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday.
“Our employees in the field have repeatedly been the targets of misguided attacks, verbal abuse, threats, physical assault, and even weapons,” Johnson said. “Today, one of our PG&E employees, driving a PG&E vehicle, was intentionally run off the road by an angry motorist.”
“The men and women of PG&E you see in your community are there for a single reason, and that is to help you,” Johnson added.
The company announced Tuesday it is launching another preventative blackout ahead of a major wind event expected to begin Tuesday night. The blackout will impact an estimated 597,000 customers.
At the press conference, PG&E chief meteorologist Scott Strenfel warned residents about the expected high winds and low humidity.
“These are conditions that yield dangerous fire weather and potential for significant fires,” Strenfel said.
Getty Fire caused by tree branch hitting power line
The Getty Fire began when a tree branch was blown into a power line, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. Garcetti emphasized that the fire was accidental, and not caused by faulty equipment.
“We have concluded … that this fire started when a tree branch fell on power lines, causing them to spark and begin this fire,” Garcetti said. Garcetti added that he saw dashcam footage showing what he believes to be the moment the fire began.
“This was, simply put, in plain parlance, an act of God,” Garcetti said. “The wind broke off the tree branch, threw that tree branch, because of the strong winds, far enough to cause a spark off a line that’s still intact there.”
Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department’s (LAFD) Arson-Counterterrorism Section analyzed burn patterns, interviewed witnesses, and gathered physical evidence. The group determined that the fire likely originated on the 1800 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, although it’s unclear who owns the property on which the fire began.
LeBron James, Guy Fieri and John Cena pitch in to help first responders
Celebrities including LeBron James, John Cena and Guy Fieri have pitched in to help the first responders battling the blazes across California.
In Northern California, celebrity chef Guy Fieri served up lunch and dinner for Sonoma County firefighters, County Supervisor James Gore said on Facebook.
And on Monday, John Cena tweeted a video in which he pledged to donate $500,000 to a charity that will benefit first responders.
“This is the right thing to do and I am doing my part to help the cause,” Cena said in the video. “I wish everyone the best of luck, please stay safe and you are our heroes.”
Getty Fire scorches 745 acres, destroys 12 homes
The Getty Fire has burned 745 acres as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The fire, which has destroyed at least 12 homes, was 27% contained.
Officials urged residents to prepare for what Mayor Eric Garcetti described as the “most significant wind event in Los Angeles of the year.”
“It does take one ember — just one ember — downwind to start another brush fire,” Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said. Terrazas urged residents to register for alerts.
Governor Gavin Newsom said that between Monday and Tuesday, Cal Fire had taken down 324 fires. “I’m a very proud governor because I’m very proud of this state and its resiliency,” he said.
Newsom also announced that PG&E will be crediting customers for the power disruption. But he harshly criticized the utility for the duration and amount of power outages, describing the blackouts as the consequence of “decades of a utility that didn’t focus on you and public safety, but focused on shareholders.”
Electrical malfunctions may have caused two fires
PG&E said two fires that broke out Sunday in Lafayette, less than 20 miles northeast of San Francisco, may have been caused by its own electrical malfunctions. Despite cutting power to more than 2.5 million people, the electricity was not turned off in the area because it wasn’t designated as high risk, CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported.
“If we did go into a mode where we wanted to prevent everything from happening, then we’d have to shut the whole system down, and that’s just not acceptable,” PG&E President and CEO Andy Vesey told reporters Monday. The utility also said it failed to notify 23,000 customers — including 500 with medical conditions — before shutting off their power.
“We’re going to investigate all of this, and we’re going to make a determination as to culpability,” Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters Monday.