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article imageWinds pick up, fueling intensity of massive California wildfires

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2017 in Environment
Los Angeles - A 70-year-old woman has become the first fire-related casualty as firefighters continue battling six massive wildfires across Southern California, with brutal Santa Ana winds expected to continue fanning the flames through Sunday.
A total of almost 175,000 acres (70,820 hectares) has already been scorched. The Thomas Fire, the largest of the six wildfires, has burned 132,000 acres and is only 10 percent contained. The two newest blazes are the Lilac fire in San Diego County and the Liberty fire in Riverside County.
All the fires are still being fueled by the fierce Santa Ana winds, and along with low humidity, as low as 5.0 percent, ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo is saying there is not much relief in the forecast for those fire-ravaged areas.
Fire-ravaged furniture from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County are seen outside a home in Ojai  Calif...
Fire-ravaged furniture from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County are seen outside a home in Ojai, California, California on December 8, 2017
Extreme fire danger will remain in the region through the weekend. Red Flag Warnings have remained in effect for much of Southern California with peak wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph forecast to continue through the weekend. There is a big concern over the chance of increased fire growth in the mountains east of San Diego, where winds are expected to be in excess of 50 mph.
A 70-year-old woman, Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, whose body was found Friday at a crash site along an evacuation route in Southern California, has been identified as the first fire-related casualty in this series of fires.
Randy Bresnik
Wildfires are seen from space
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik has viewed the California wildfires from the International Space Station as it orbits 250 miles above the Earth. Quartz reports his images capture the long plumes of smoke floating away from California and then over the Pacific.
At least 9,400 customers in northern San Diego are without power because of the Lilac Fire, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. More than 4,300 customers are still without power due to the Thomas Fire along the north coast, the Creek Fire in Sylmar and the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita, according to Southern California Edison.
Randy BresnikVerified account
Governor Jerry Brown's request "for direct federal assistance to support the response" to his emergency declaration was approved on Friday. President Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
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