Thomas Fire burning near Ventura, thousands evacuated
*Update the fire is now reported at 45,500 acres. This fire is tough to battle as winds increase and access to water systems is difficult, according to Ventura Fire officials.
In a matter of hours, the Thomas Fire took thousands of residents in Ventura County by surprise overnight when the winds increased, growing a relatively small brush fire that has now burned more than 31,000 acres and no containment, according to Ventura County Fire officials.
Santa Ynez Valley native and Ventura residents Shannon Foster and her family, who recently moved to the area to take care of family, were awakened at 1 a.m. with orders to evacuate. She just returned home from the hospital after having her second daughter last weekend. The Foster’s, along with 27,000 other residents, have been evacuated.
“This is one of the worst fires we have seen in a long time,” said Fire Cpt. Stan Ziegler.
“When daylight comes, we have eight fixed-wing and several helicopters ordered,” fire officials said in a press briefing in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The fire started just before 7 p.m. Monday along Highway 150 in the 1000 block of Ojai Road in the vicinity of Thomas Aquinas College and Steckel Park.
Fire officials are estimating roughly 150 buildings, from residences to apartment complexes and other structures, have been lost. Foster is unsure if her house is still standing; they evacuated to a hotel in Santa Barbara.
Mandatory and voluntary evacuations are in the neighborhoods along Highway 150, in the canyons to the west, and north of Santa Paula.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the following areas:
Residents in Santa Paula, east of Dickenson Road, north of Monte Vista Drive along Highway 150 and South of Thomas Aquinas College to the area of Say Road.
Residents in Santa Paula, west of Dickenson Road to Atmore Road, north of Foothill Road and west to Wheeler Canyon Road
Residents in Upper Ojai, north of Highway 150 from Koenigstein Road west to the Dennison Grade, north to Reeves Road, east to McAndrew Road and north to Grand Avenue.
Residents in Santa Paula and Ventura, north of Foothill Road west to Wheeler Canyon Road, north to Canada Larga Road and east to Barlow Canyon Road
Residents in Ventura, south of Highway 33, east of Main St, north of Foothill Road and Hall Canyon Road and west of Canada Larga Road
Residents in Ventura, east of North Ashwood Avenue along Loma Vista Road to North Victoria Avenue south of Foothill
Residents in Ventura County, east of hwy 33 west of Creek Road south of Ojai Valley Inn south of Hwy 150
Residents in Ventura County, north of Canada Larga along Hwy 33 to south of Casitas Vista and north along Casitas Vista Road to Lake Casitas
Ojai, Thacher School 5025 Thacher Road, Ojai has been evacuated
Ventura, Vista Del Mar Hospital has been evacuated and patients will be transported to LA area facilities by ambulance
Residents in the City of Ventura south of Loma Vista, east of Day Road, West of Victoria Avenue and north of Telegraph Road
Residents in the City of Ventura, east of Victoria north of Loma Vista South of Foothill west of Wells Road
An evacuation shelter is set up at Ventura County Fairgrounds at Miners Building, which also includes animal shelters, at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. A second shelter is at Nordhoff High School located at 1401 Maricopa Highway in Ojai.
Ventura Unified School District has been closed as well as the Hueneme Elementary, Santa Paula and Oxnard School Districts.