California wildfires destroy thousands of structures, force emergency evacuations

Ventura County Fire

Thousands of residents just outside Los Angeles have been ordered to evacuate immediately as a massive wildfire advances, fanned by strong winds.

At about 2:30 a.m. Friday, all evacuation orders in the city of Los Angeles were changed from mandatory to voluntary, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire then pushed southward, jumped the wide US 101 freeway before dawn Friday and pushed into the Santa Monica range.

The fire was driven by heavy winds last night.

The fire had jumped Highway 101 in several places, including Calabasas and Agoura Hills, as it barrelled south towards coastal Malibu.

A wind-driven brush fire that broke out in Ventura County, west of Chatsworth, has prompted authorities to order the evacuation of 75,000 homes in L.A. and Ventura counties.

Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweets that the fire is headed to the ocean, punctuating the message with the declaration: "Imminent threat!"

No estimate was given on the number of structures destroyed but the Fire Department did say there were "many". Within minutes, her family and thousands of people were racing to escape the raging flames of the Camp Fire.

The fire in Paradise burned fast, reports CBS News' David Begnaud.

Friday morning the fire was burning to the outer edges of Chico, a city of 93,000 people about a 90-mile drive north of Sacramento.

Voluntary evacuations have been added in Ventura County for Lake Sherwood and the area south of Hwy 101 and north of Potrero Road between Westlake Boulevard and Wendy Drive in Thousand Oaks.

L.A. County Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Trey Espy confirmed 15 to 20 homes were impacted in the area of Kellwood Ct. and Churchwood Dr. and additional homes were impacted in nearby areas. "I pray everyone is safe", she wrote.

Howling Santa Ana winds were driving the Woolsey and Hill fires.

Residents posted on social media to share their views of the flames almost consuming the hillside in the Newbury Park area of western Thousand Oaks.

Reality TV celebrity Kim Kardashian-West, who lives in an area known as Hidden Hills in Los Angeles county, was among those forced to evacuate their homes, People magazine reported.

Dettorre is concerned that as the fire crosses the freeway "it will make its historic and typical run all the way down Pacific Coast Highway".

Heavy smoke and strong winds hampered visibility for crews on the firelines and residents trying to evacuate fire zones.

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