By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES–California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency in San Diego, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties as a huge swath of Southern California is in flames.
The region’s biggest fire keeps growing and has destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings as of Dec. 8. At Final Call presstime, the fires stretched from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Fierce Santa Ana winds, extremely dry down-slope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja, California, combined with dry brush and dead trees fueled multiple fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties the evening of Dec. 4, according to Gov. Brown’s Office of Emergency Services.
Thousands of acres burned overnight destroying infrastructure, residences, and prompting mass evacuations. The fires shut down several major freeways, schools, and threatened historical landmarks.
In Los Angeles, the Rye Canyon Loop Fire had burned 6,049 acres and was 35 percent contained at press time. So far, 5,460 structures were threatened, and no evacuations were ordered.
The Creek Fire in L.A. County, in San Fernando Valley has burned 15,323 acres and was 40 percent contained by the Dec. 1 weekend. It destroyed 33 homes and 32 sheds, barns, garages, and other buildings.
In San Diego, the Lilac Fire burned 4,100 acres off Old Highway 395, destroying 65 structures since it began on Dec. 7.
“California is grateful for the quick approval of our request and the ongoing efforts of local, state and federal emergency responders to protect communities across Southern California,” said Gov. Brown in a press release dated Dec. 8.
The day before, he wrote to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, requesting a Presidential Emergency Declaration for direct federal assistance to supplement the state and local emergency response to the Southern California wildfires.
The Thomas Fire began burning in Ventura County on Dec. 4, and spread into Santa Barbara County, where Gov. Brown also declared a state of emergency.
At press time, the Thomas Fire had burned 132,000 acres and was 10 percent contained. In addition to burning 87 homes, three businesses and 16 outbuildings were destroyed.
In some places, the fire jumped the 101 Freeway and made way toward the Pacific Ocean.
Some major contributing factors to the size and ferocity of the fire is the amount of “fuel” available to it, which is all the dry brush in the area, stated Tom Kruschay, Ventura County information officer.
“We have ground resources. We have air resources. It hasn’t been that effective in that it’s just been too dangerous to get in there and directly engage with the fire. With the strong, erratic winds and the light, flashy fuels (grass or twigs), this fire has just been all over the place,” Mr. Kruschay told The Final Call.
He said the wind has been a factor in fueling the fires, but for seven or eight years, due to drought, those flashy fuels became very dried out.
Their best tactic has been the evacuation orders to more than 15,000, but there’s no way to track who actually responded, according to Mr. Kruschay.
“With the hot Santa Ana winds blowing on them, it’s a worst-case scenario. It’s going to burn and there’s very little we can do about it until conditions get such that we can actively engage and get closer in on that fire, or get those air resources in the air,” he stated.
These California wildfires are the latest in continued natural disasters that God is using to punish America for her unjust treatment of her once slaves in her midst, as has consistently warned the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
He spoke to President Donald Trump, saying give justice to the Black man and woman in America or face continued divine chastisement and destruction.
“Watch how the God will give a punctuation to what I said to you from him (Elijah Muhammad) today. So, if you keep going the way you’re going, it’s over,” warned Min. Farrakhan, during a highly anticipated press conference from the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16.
Last week, Min. Farrakhan’s Final Call newspaper devoted extensive, special coverage to disasters and disaster preparedness days before the fires struck.
The newspaper, V. 37, No. 10, features a host of articles dealing with powerful, deadly storms, and extreme weather events punishing America.
The stories delve into how the acts of God take a huge economic, psychological and social toll on the country, and how these events will increase as God chastises the United States.
In the exclusive Bel Air section of Los Angeles, where multi-million- dollar houses give the rich and famous sweeping views, authorities tallied four homes destroyed and 11 damaged by a fire that erupted before dawn Dec. 6.
Flames there burned a wine storage shed at media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate and appeared to have damaged about seven acres of vines, a spokeswoman said.
Across the wide Interstate 405 freeway from the Bel Air fire, the Getty Center art complex located about two miles and five minutes from the University of California Los Angeles, was closed to protect its collection from smoke damage. Many schools across Los Angeles were closed because of poor air quality and classes were canceled at 265 schools on Dec. 7.
Total damage tallies for all of the wildfires have lagged as fire agencies have focused on battling the flames. Early on, authorities in Ventura County said 150 structures were destroyed there, but that number was expected to increase substantially.
Damage assessments also remained incomplete for two fires in northern Los Angeles County.
Two months after more than 100,000 residents fled wind-whipped wildfires that ripped through northern and parts of southern California, Dave Jones, Department of Insurance commissioner, said the latest statewide total of insured losses tops $9.4 billion in residential and commercial claims from October wildfires. The North Bay fires accounted for $9 billion in claimed losses alone.
Meanwhile, retirement communities built on golf courses, thoroughbreds in race horse stables and other usually serene sites were engulfed by flames as the San Diego area became the latest front in California’s wildfire fight.
Residents ran for their lives by the thousand as devastating wildfires raced across brush-covered Southern California hillsides and survived even if their homes didn’t.
Some lost everything. Others returned to find their homes still standing but in danger a second time when flames that had seemed to spare them returned, pushed back in their direction by unpredictable winds.
Steve Andruszkewicz and his neighbor Joseph Ruffner returned to their Faria Beach Colony homes just north of Ventura on Dec. 7 to discover the flames that appeared to have spared the houses were threatening them once again.
“I thought we were done yesterday,” Mr. Ruffner said, adding he and his family returned to their home in the morning to see a wall of fire that seemed to be a safe distance away. But then it moved in, spraying hot embers onto the neighborhood.
“It’s coming back to burn what it didn’t burn yesterday,” he said.
(The Associated Press and Darrielle Muhammad contributed to this report.)