Further evacuations were ordered Thursday across the Los Angeles metropolitan area as multiple wildfires continue to rage uncontrolled. As fires raged southward Thursday afternoon, the County of San Diego declared a state of emergency, enabling assistance from federal and state resources.
Winds in the Ventura area reached up to 85 miles an hour Wednesday night, the National Weather Service reported, matching the "extreme wind behavior" Los Angeles County Fire Chief said was expected. Conditions improved throughout the morning but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned at a midday press conference that the situation may quickly worsen.
"The prediction is, even though this is a time of calm winds, that we will continue to get gusts through Saturday that will be erratic and unpredictable, as high as 50 to 70 miles an hour," Garcetti said. "These conditions ... make this a very threatening environment."
With at least 120,000 people already fleeing the fires by Wednesday, the overnight spread of the Thomas Fire in Ventura and towards Santa Barbara caused officials to order more evacuations.
Air travelers affected by the wildfires can change their plans at no cost, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines announced. The airlines said customers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport or Long Beach Airport can change their travel dates without a fee and will not be charged the difference if the new date is more expensive.