One dead as thousands flee southern California wildfire

California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

California wildfire: Thousands evacuated in Ventura County

Raked by ferocious Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires on the edge of Los Angeles and in the foothills outside the city burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Soon after, the hospital was "razed to the ground" by the fire, according to a local news report.

One person died in a vehicle crash trying to evacuate the fire that first broke out Monday night. It reached the northern edge of Ventura, a city with a population of more than 100,000, by 2 a.m.

- Blistering Santa Ana winds will spread through Los Angeles and Orange counties Sunday night, with peak winds of 80 miles per hour possible in mountain locations Monday night, the National Weather Service warned Sunday. More than 27,000 people were evacuated and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.

"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential", the Ventura county fire chief, Mark Lorenzen, said.

"The prospects for containment are not good".

"The fire is still out of control and structures continue to be threatened throughout the fire area", county emergency officials said in statement.

Authorities in Ventura County, on the Pacific Coast just north of Los Angeles, declared an emergency and said they planned to use fixed wing aircraft and helicopters against the "fast moving, active brush fire".

"I'm not going to wait around for someone to come rescue me so I'm outta here", said June Byrum.

The Southern California Edison power company said about 263,000 customers were without electricity in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties as of early Tuesday morning, after the fire torched a key supply line in the region.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

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