- Kincade Fire in Northern California: 76,825 acres burned; 60% contained
- Maria Fire in Southern California: 8,060 acres burned, zero percent contained
- Easy Fire in Southern California: 1,723 acres burned; 10% contained
- Getty Fire in Southern California: 745 acres burned; 39% contained
- 46 Fire in Southern California: 300 acres burned; 15% contained
- Hillside Fire in Southern California: 200 acres burned; 50% contained
- PG&E says it's restored power to "essentially all" of the roughly 1.1 million homes and businesses it cut power to on Saturday and Tuesday in an effort to prevent new blazes
A new brush fire erupted on a mountaintop north of Los Angeles Thursday night, quickly growing to over 8,000 acres. The Maria Fire grew quickly despite calmer weather that helped firefighters battling multiple wildfires throughout the state, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Hundreds of firefighters raced to battle the Maria Fire, which began at approximately 6:30 p.m. Some 7,500 people were ordered to evacuate.
Winds subsided in almost all parts of the state, though red flag warnings for fire danger because of winds and ultra-dry conditions were up through Friday evening for some areas north and west of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reports.
On Thursday, two fast-moving wildfires exploded in Southern California, fueled by powerful Santa Ana winds. One of them, the Hillside Fire in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles, prompted mandatory evacuations and destroyed at least six homes. Some residents refused to leave.
The 46 Fire in neighboring Riverside County has burned at least five structures. Investigators said it began at the end of a police chase, when a stolen car barreled through fences into a large open field, damaging its tires and disabling the car.
Heat from the car's wheels apparently ignited a fire under it that engulfed it and sparked a vegetation fire in the field. The car's two occupants of the car tried to flee on foot but were caught, police said. All evacuation orders related to the 46 Fire were lifted Thursday night, according to Cal Fire Riverside.
Crews faced a major battle Wednesday in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, as they took on another blaze -- the Easy Fire. The flames came dangerously close to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and nearby neighborhoods. About 30,000 people were forced to evacuate.
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Preventive blackouts "essentially" over, PG&E says
Pacific Gas & Electric said Thursday night it had restored power to "essentially all" the 1.1 million homes and businesses affected by blackouts it instituted Saturday and Tuesday in an attempt to keep its equipment from sparking wildfires as strong winds hit Northern California.
The much-maligned utility said it's identified 156 instances so far of weather-related damage and hazards that might have ignited blazes if it hadn't cut power, and it's checking out hundreds more reports of damage.
PG&E was blamed by fire officials Wednesday for two fires in eastern Contra Costa County over the weekend that led to a number of evacuations.
Maria Fire quickly burns through 8,000 acres
A new brush fire erupted in Southern California Thursday night, CBS Los Angeles reports, quickly growing to over 8,000 acres with zero containment. The Maria Fire began on the top of South Mountain near Santa Paula, an hour north of Los Angeles, even though strong winds had died down for the most part.
Firefighters responded around 6:30 p.m. PT. Hundreds were battling the blaze.
Evacuations were ordered for some 7,500 people. At least one home was on fire. School closings were announced for Friday.
Flames could be seen for miles as the fire moved quickly through dry brush.
Ventura County Fire Assistant Chief John McNeil estimated that the fire could hit about 12,000 acres before running out of fuel, according to The Associated Press.
The fire broke out near the Easy Fire, which started Wednesday.
Officials said the firefighting effort was hampered in the early going by a drone flying over flames.
As of 7:48 p.m., helicopters were making water drops and engines were getting in place to try to protect homes.
"We only had seconds to get out"
More than 700 firefighters were fighting the Easy Fire Thursday. The fire ignited just before dawn Wednesday, and flames raged into the night, fueled by wind gusts up to 70 mph, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.
It quickly consumed a barn, where volunteers helped rescue animals trapped inside. One horse even seemed to turn back to lead other horses to safety.
Despite an all-out assault, flames still managed to jump a freeway, forcing a nearby neighborhood to evacuate. "We put everything in the car, and I'm so glad we did, " said Frank Rahimi of Moorpark, "because by the time it jumped the 23 Freeway, we only had seconds to get out."
"Significant progress" made on Kincade Fire
Firefighters in Northern California made "pretty significant progress" battling the Kincade blaze, Cal Fire representative Jonathan Cox said Wednesday.
A red flag warning for the region has ended, and the winds have subsided "quite a bit," according to a representative from the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to plunge to the high 20s overnight.
More than 5,000 people remain under evacuation orders. Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said 10 people were arrested Wednesday for illegally entering evacuation zones.
Spot fire pops up next to fire engine as crews battle blaze
Crews in Southern California battled numerous fires Wednesday. The winds were powerful enough to knock over big rigs along an interstate, yet vigilant firefighters kept spot fires from exploding.
While CBS News correspondent Carter Evans was talking to Ventura County Fire Captain Anthony Romero, a spot fire popped up right next to a fire engine. "Just like that," Romero said. "What you got to maintain, for us, is just constant awareness that the fire is going to keep moving. We want to maintain our vigilance just because it is an active firefight."
Fire officials cite PG&E equipment as cause of 2 fires in Northern California
Fire officials announced Wednesday they identified PG&E equipment as the cause of two fires in eastern Contra Costa County over the weekend, which led to a number of evacuations in Northern California.
The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District said firefighters sent to a vegetation fire in Bethel Island early Sunday found a rapidly expanding, wind-driven fire that had burned an area the size of a football field.
Fire investigators determined the area of origin was under PG&E power lines, obtaining video that showed a transformer casting sparks onto the vegetation below, the fire district said. The fire forced evacuations from a nearby mobile home park.
As the fire was being brought under control, a second fire was reported about 2.5 miles away in Oakley. The fire district said the reporting party indicated another PG&E equipment malfunction, and investigators confirmed a transformer failure which showered sparks and ignited vegetation.
PG&E said Wednesday it didn't have enough information to officially comment on those two fires and said "it's too soon to tell" if its equipment was to blame.
California wildfires map
About a dozen wildfires were burning throughout California as of Wednesday.
"This will only get worse in the future"
"Since the early 1970s, California's annual wildfire extent increased fivefold, punctuated by extremely large and destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018," the researchers wrote. "This trend was mainly due to an eightfold increase in summertime forest-fire area and was very likely driven by drying of fuels promoted by human-induced warming."
Over the past decade, average temperatures there have risen over 2 degrees Fahrenheit, but the moisture deficit -- the difference between the amount of water actually in the atmosphere and the amount of water it can hold -- has not caught up. Lower relative humidity causes brush to dry out faster, creating more kindling to burn when a fire starts.
"It's not likely to get better as we continue to warm the climate," CBS News climate and weather contributor Jeff Berardelli said. "This will only get worse in the future."