A small fire only several acres in size quickly exploded into a massive 10,000-plus acre fire in just a few hours on Monday in Santa Paula, California, triggering mandatory evacuations.
California's notorious Santa Ana winds play a major factor in starting and rapidly spreading fires in the state, which can cause significant damage. The strong winds pushed the fire in a southwest direction toward Ventura, prompting evacuations and power outages, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Ventura County Fire Department reported that one person was killed in a traffic accident related to this fire, dubbed the Thomas Fire.
Ventura County firefighter Jason Hodge said that the key to stopping a wildfire like the Thomas Fire is getting to edges quickly, which can be a challenge since fire crews were battling 25 to 50 mph winds.
"We're really just trying to catch it around the edges and just pinch it off as quickly as we possibly can," Hodge said. "That's what's driving this fire. So it's a challenge, but everybody's out there working hard and will be through the night."
The Times noted that before 7 p.m., firefighters were in place to shield homes from the fire's destructive blaze when the fire grew from 50 to 500 acres within the hour.
Residents in over 1,000 homes were forced to evacuate as of midnight PST as the fire reportedly grew to over 10,000 acres, KTTV LA reporter Zohreen Adamjee reported.
Helicopters were reportedly forced to land as the winds reached over 50 mph, making it unsafe for them to fly. The Ventura County Fire Department provided the following images in tweets that show the sheer magnitude of the Thomas Fire.