Fire and fear stretch across Southern California as wildfires roar through communities

Report Rupert Murdoch's LA home 'burning down' in wildfire

Much of Southern California is also experiencing humidity levels in the teens or even single digits. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 "to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region", but as of now, the art inside is staying put. The four-day old Thomas Fire had burned 115,000 acres and destroyed 439 buildings, damaging 85 others.

The forecast is disturbing enough that the Los Angeles school system has canceled classes in many San Fernando Valley schools and officials are bracing for more fires across the region. So the risk of the fires spreading will remain high.

Some of those who fled as flames closed in had time to do little more than run.

The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state.

The out-of-control fires are blazing in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and almost 200,000 people have been affected by mandatory evacuation orders.

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It had swelled to over 108,000 acres by midnight local time on Thursday, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which is comprised of nine government agencies, among them the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service and United States Fire Administration. They were taking a break after battling fires in nearby Ojai the night before, winds whipping in off of the ocean as they rested. A dozen Ventura County fire engines staged along the road near midday, the fire burning in the avocado and citrus orchards along the ridge-line above.

California Fire Department (Cal Fire) officials warned residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. While the freeway closures were in the name of safety, one negative result was a massive gridlock in one of Los Angeles' most congested and busy areas. The horses were trapped in a barn that burned to the ground as the owners were evacuated with no warning.

The Skirball Fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. on the east side of the freeway near Mulholland Drive, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The Skirball fire - near a cultural center of the same name and captured in apocalyptic images - also prompted authorities to close the 405 Freeway, a major commuting corridor famous for its traffic congestion.

And the hundreds of embers pushed in front of the fires become small spot fires themselves, he said. The ongoing Creek Fire in the Sylmar area has scorched more than 11,000 acres.

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