S California fire threatening many towns

OJAI, United States: A fierce wildfire raged on north of Los Angeles on Sunday, threatening other towns after already charring vast swaths of land, but other blazes were largely contained after burning for days.
The so-called Thomas Fire is only 15 per cent contained, now threatening the city of Santa Barbara and the nearby coastal town of Carpinteria, and is on track to become one of the worst wildfires in California history. It has already destroyed 583 structures and scorched 155,000 acres, the authorities say.
A photo posted by Santa Barbara police on Sunday morning showed a wall of flames several yards high very close to buildings in Carpinteria.
Evacuation orders were issued overnight for some parts of Carpinteria close to Los Padres National Forest, where fire was raging.
Conditions remained very dry in southern California, according to the National Weather Service, but strong winds that have fueled the fires for much of the week have eased significantly.
At least five other blazes in southern California are now largely contained, the state agency Calfire said.
After a five-day siege, some Californians were finally able to return home to inspect the damage wrought by the wildfires, which together have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee and destroyed more than 850 structures, including multimillion-dollar mansions.
Despite the intensity of the fires that raged on multiple fronts — stretching from areas north of Los Angeles down to the San Diego region — authorities have reported only one fatality.
US President Donald Trump has issued a state of emergency for California, authorizing the release of federal funds.
The week’s infernos capped California’s deadliest year ever for wildfires. More than 40 people died in October when fires swept through the state’s wine-producing counties north of San Francisco.
Santa Ana winds that have stoked wildfires across Southern California, destroying hundreds of buildings and forcing evacuations of some 200,000 people, were expected to return in force on Sunday, authorities said.
Firefighters had gained some ground battling the fires that have burned over the past week as the winds eased on Saturday. At least one person has been killed.
The Skirball Fire in Los Angeles was 75 per cent contained, while the Creek and Rye Fires in Los Angeles County were 85 per cent and 80 percent contained, officials said.
Winds and the rugged terrain have hampered firefighting efforts there, authorities said. The National Weather Service is forecasting top wind speeds to increase to 55 miles per hour on Sunday, up from the 40 miles per hour recorded on Saturday.
After gusty winds overnight, authorities early on Sunday morning ordered residents to evacuate much of Toro Canyon, a few miles east of Santa Barbara, as the Thomas fire threatened that area. — AFP/Reuters