- Kincade Fire: 76,825 acres burned; 45% contained
- Getty Fire: 745 acres burned; 27% contained
- CBS Los Angeles compiled a list early Thursday with the latest on all the wildfires in Southern California
- About 206,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity after Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to millions of people in an effort to prevent new blazes
Firefighters in Southern California were battling to contain two new wildfires early Thursday even as crews got more of a handle on blazes in Northern California as winds died down.
The Hillside Fire broke out in San Bernardino and quickly entered some neighborhoods, prompting evacuations. It destroyed at least four homes. The 46 Fire started near the end of a police chase in Riverside County, quickly burning 75 acres and forcing evacuations.
The fires ignited as Southern California continued to face strong winds, which were expected to last through the day. For the first time ever, an "extreme red flag warning" was in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
In Northern California, the massive Kincade Fire grew to more than 76,000 acres. By Wednesday evening, it was 45% contained and had damaged or destroyed about 200 homes and other buildings.
The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, said about 206,000 homes and businesses were without power after the utility cut electricity to some areas to avoid starting new wildfires.
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Brush fire starts near end point of police chase
Evacuations were underway early Thursday after a fast-moving brush fire broke out in Jurupa Valley, in Riverside County east of Los Angeles and south of San Bernardino, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters responded to reports of flames along 46th Avenue at about 12:39 a.m, the station said, and officials quickly dubbed the blaze the 46 Fire.
The first crews on scene reported a quarter-acre of vegetation burning, rapidly.
By 2:45 a.m., the fire had burned 75 acres and damaged one residential structure, one mobile home and two outbuildings.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department said the fire started near the termination point of a pursuit of a possible stolen vehicle. At least one person was in custody.
An initial evacuation area was quickly expanded. An evacuation center was set up at Patriot High School, 4355 Camino Real.
Hillside Fire erupts in San Bernardino
A vegetation fire broke out at about 2 a.m. Thursday along a highway in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles.
Four strike teams were requested for the fast-moving, wind-driven Hillside Fire, which was threatening several structures, reports CBS Los Angeles. By 2:30 a.m., the blaze had burned more than 200 acres.
Some evacuations were ordered.
CBS Radio station KNX reported that at least four homes were destroyed.
Kincade Fire: "Significant progress" made as fire nears 50% containment
Firefighters in Northern California made "pretty significant progress" battling the Kincade blaze, Cal Fire representative Jonathan Cox said Wednesday. The fire, which has scorched 76,825 acres, is now 45% contained.
The 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 20's overnight.
More than 5,000 people remain under evacuation orders. Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said that 10 people had been arrested Wednesday for illegally entering evacuation zones.
Easy Fire scorches over 1,600 acres: “We still are not through this”
The Easy Fire burned through more than 1,600 acres on Wednesday, officials said. The fire, which began early Wednesday morning, remains a "significant risk," said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen.
"We still are not through this," Lorenzen said. "We have a good 'nother 24 hours of significant weather conditions and a lot of threats."
It's not yet clear what caused the blaze. Officials said that they hope to hold a perimeter Wednesday night, and continue containing the fire on Thursday morning.
Fire officials cite PG&E equipment as cause of 2 fires in Northern California
Fire officials announced Wednesday that it 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 which 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 that it didn't have enough information yet to officially comment on those two fires and said "it's too soon to tell" if its equipment was to blame.
Firefighters gain ground in Northern California as winds diminish
Firefighters gained ground in Northern California as heavy winds began to diminish, a spokesperson from the California governor's Office of Emergency Services said Wednesday night.
The Kincade Fire, which has scorched 76,825 acres, is now 30% contained. Forecasts predict there will not be any major wind events in the north for the next five to six days, allowing firefighters time to beat back the existing flames.
Firefighters also made progress in the southern half of the state. The Hill Fire and Easy Fire, both of which started Wednesday, are 5% contained; the Getty Fire is now 27% contained. PG&E is working to restore service across the state, and 206,000 customers are still without power.
California wildfires map
About a dozen wildfires were burning throughout California.
"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."
"Extreme red flag warning" issued in Southern California
In Southern California, the National Weather Service issued its first-ever "extreme red flag warning" for much of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The warning predicts "damaging wind gusts between 50 and 70 mph," isolated gusts that could hit 80 mph and extremely low humidity.
"This all adds up to an extreme fire weather threat, meaning that conditions are as dangerous for fire growth and behavior as we have seen in recent memory," the weather service said in its warning, which lasts until 6 p.m. Thursday.
Southern California Edison said Wednesday it shut off power to more than 68,000 homes and businesses amid the most powerful Santa Ana wind event of the season descending on the area.
Wine country wildfire visible from San Francisco
The massive Kincade Fire in Northern California's wine country, in Sonoma County, can now be seen all the way from San Francisco. And the high winds that were forecast are indeed back, CBS San Francisco reported:
Dry vegetation could fuel Southern California wildfires
Extraordinarily dry vegetation could fuel wildfires in the hills around Los Angeles, CBS News climate and weather contributor Jeff Berardelli reports. The area has only had 0.05 inches of rain in the last five months.
"The terrain is basically like a hybrid desert," Berardelli said. "We have patches of dry interspersed with some green areas, which is fuel for any of these fires that get going."
Three reports of looting in Northern California as Kincade Fire grows
Officials in Northern California have received three additional reports of looting as the Kincade Fire rages, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said at a Tuesday press conference. The looting was discovered when residents returned to their homes and businesses and found items missing. No arrests have been made.
"The Sheriff's Office is doing everything we can to get you back into your homes," Essick said. "We realize the anxiety there."
Three people were arrested earlier in the week for unauthorized entry into evacuation zones.
The Kincade Fire grew to 76,138 acres by 6:30 p.m. local time, said Cal Fire representative Jonathan Cox. Some 189 structures were destroyed, 86 of which were single-family homes.
The blaze was still only 15% contained as of Tuesday evening. Cox said that after the major wind event predicted for Tuesday night subsides, he expects containment to rise.
PG&E workers face threats, assault during fire prevention efforts
PG&E employees have been subject to verbal and physical assaults while working to prevent wildfires, PG&E president and CEO Bill Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday.
"Our employees in the field have repeatedly been the targets of misguided attacks, verbal abuse, threats, physical assault, and even weapons," Johnson said. "Today, one of our PG&E employees, driving a PG&E vehicle, was intentionally run off the road by an angry motorist."
"The men and women of PG&E you see in your community are there for a single reason, and that is to help you," Johnson added.
The company announced Tuesday it is launching another preventative blackout ahead of a major wind event expected to begin Tuesday night. The blackout will impact an estimated 597,000 customers.
At the press conference, PG&E chief meteorologist Scott Strenfel warned residents about the expected high winds and low humidity.
"These are conditions that yield dangerous fire weather and potential for significant fires," Strenfel said.
Getty Fire caused by tree branch hitting power line
The Getty Fire began when a tree branch was blown into a power line, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. Garcetti emphasized that the fire was accidental, and not caused by faulty equipment.
"We have concluded ... that this fire started when a tree branch fell on power lines, causing them to spark and begin this fire," Garcetti said. Garcetti added that he saw dashcam footage showing what he believes to be the moment the fire began.
"This was, simply put, in plain parlance, an act of God," Garcetti said. "The wind broke off the tree branch, threw that tree branch, because of the strong winds, far enough to cause a spark off a line that's still intact there."
Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department's (LAFD) Arson-Counterterrorism Section analyzed burn patterns, interviewed witnesses, and gathered physical evidence. The group determined that the fire likely originated on the 1800 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, although it's unclear who owns the property on which the fire began.
LeBron James, Guy Fieri and John Cena pitch in to help first responders
Celebrities including LeBron James, John Cena and Guy Fieri have pitched in to help the first responders battling the blazes across California.
In Northern California, celebrity chef Guy Fieri served up lunch and dinner for Sonoma County firefighters, County Supervisor James Gore said on Facebook.
"This is the right thing to do and I am doing my part to help the cause," Cena said in the video. "I wish everyone the best of luck, please stay safe and you are our heroes."
Getty Fire scorches 745 acres, destroys 12 homes
The Getty Fire has burned 745 acres as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The fire, which has destroyed at least 12 homes, was 27% contained.
Officials urged residents to prepare for what Mayor Eric Garcetti described as the "most significant wind event in Los Angeles of the year."
"It does take one ember -- just one ember -- downwind to start another brush fire," Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said. Terrazas urged residents to register for alerts.
Governor Gavin Newsom said that between Monday and Tuesday, Cal Fire had taken down 324 fires. "I'm a very proud governor because I'm very proud of this state and its resiliency," he said.
Newsom also announced that PG&E will be crediting customers for the power disruption. But he harshly criticized the utility for the duration and amount of power outages, describing the blackouts as the consequence of "decades of a utility that didn't focus on you and public safety, but focused on shareholders."
Electrical malfunctions may have caused two fires
PG&E said two fires that broke out Sunday in Lafayette, less than 20 miles northeast of San Francisco, may have been caused by its own electrical malfunctions. Despite cutting power to more than 2.5 million people, the electricity was not turned off in the area because it wasn't designated as high risk, CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported.
"If we did go into a mode where we wanted to prevent everything from happening, then we'd have to shut the whole system down, and that's just not acceptable," PG&E President and CEO Andy Vesey told reporters Monday. The utility also said it failed to notify 23,000 customers -- including 500 with medical conditions -- before shutting off their power.
"We're going to investigate all of this, and we're going to make a determination as to culpability," Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters Monday.