Millions of cellphones buzzed loudly Tuesday night from San Diego to Santa Barbara with a sound that usually means an Amber Alert, but this time meant a rare weather warning for strong winds making extreme fire danger.
The weather is not cooperating with the hundreds of officials trying to contain the fires in the region.
It's the biggest and most destructive of the windblown fires raking Southern California.
Sustained winds were gusting to 66 miles per hour at Boney Mountain in Ventura County, according to the National Weather Service.
The Thomas fire, which was the first to ignite, has already burned about 90,000 acres of land and is expected to intensify due to the increasing winds.
The Los Angeles Police Department is warning those in the area to cease using such apps.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the country's second largest with more than 640,000 students, said it closed at least 265 of its almost 1,100 schools. A full list of closed schools was available at www.lausd.net. As of Thursday, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California consumed about 90,000 acres, with five percent containment.
Even stronger gusts were expected throughout Thursday potentially exceeding 80 miles per hour, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
About 200,000 people have fled their homes and the fires have led to the closure... The effect of climate change on the Santa Ana winds remains uncertain, though a 2006 study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggested that warming could shift the winds' season leading to larger areas burned by fires.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said over 230,000 people have been forced to evacuate in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The highway, which runs the length of the state and is a major commuter corridor to Los Angeles, was closed intermittently along the 28-mile (45-kilometer) stretch between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
The fire was just 5 percent contained as of Wednesday night and 1,100 personnel are now fighting the fire.
Share this article: A helicopter drops water on the Creek Fire. The family was calling horse owners with the unfortunate news Wednesday.
Another blaze, the Rye Fire, threatened more than 5000 homes and structures northwest of Los Angeles. Firefighting crews set up on the southbound side of the 405 to prevent the fire from jumping the freeway, and northbound vehicles were being turned back. Kimberly Holman. Three lost their homes in the blazes, she said.
The winds were also creating unhealthy air conditions for parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, prompting the South Coast Air Quality and Management District on Thursday to issue a windblown ash and dust advisory.
Evacuations were ordered in the area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base and schools and casinos were being used as shelters.