Published: Fri, November 01, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Getty Fire burns as 'extreme red flag warning' looms

Getty Fire burns as 'extreme red flag warning' looms

Fire weather is expected to be extreme over the next two days, with a warning in place until late Thursday and the NWS saying to expect "damaging wind gusts between 50 and 70 miles per hour", with isolated wind gusts that could hit 80 miles per hour and persistent low humidity.

The air was parched, with relative humidity hitting zero atop Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains and on peaks in the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest, National Weather Service meteorologist Lisa Phillips said.

"We work with the Ventura County Fire Department every May and they bring in 400 to 500 goats who spend three to four weeks at the library eating all the brush and creating fire break lines", library spokeswoman Melissa Giller explains to PEOPLE.

At one point on Wednesday the fire in the Simi Valley - named the Easy Fire - threatened to engulf the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The library has trucked in goats in years past to eat away flammable scrub around the building's perimeter.

Images from space taken by Maxar satellites show the fire's spread across Sonoma County.

Fire officials said more than 200 acres burned in the first hour.

"I don't know if I've ever seen us use this warning", said forecaster Marc Chenard.

Other smaller fires erupted in communities including Riverside, Santa Clarita, Brea, Whittier, Lancaster, Calabasas, Fullerton, Long Beach, Nuevo and Jurupa Valley.

About 1 million customers in Northern California were dealing with blackouts instituted by utility company Pacific Gas & Electric, which this month has been shutting off power in a series of blackouts that have caused widespread frustration among its customers. It continued to grow in size, consuming 300 hectares by Wednesday morning, with about a quarter contained by firefighters.

The authority urged local residents to heed the orders and flee the unsafe areas as soon as possible.

Announcing preliminary findings by its arson investigators into the origins of the Getty fire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said the blaze was likely caused by a tree branch that snapped off in high winds and landed on adjacent power lines, produced sparks and "arcing" that ignited nearby brush.

PG&E President Bill Johnson said he talked to the governor and agreed to give customers affected by an October 9 blackout a one-time credit on their bills, but he did not say how much.

Officials from the Reagan museum told NBC News that flames got within 50 feet of the library but thanks to firefighters they were able to beat back the fire.

The utility acknowledged last week the Kincade fire broke out near a damaged PG&E transmission tower at about the time a live high-voltage line carried by that tower malfunctioned. Cal Fire personnel pointed out the broken jumper cable, which may have sparked the flames.

A massive fire exploded near the library in Simi Valley early Wednesday morning.

Similar blazes in northern California, including in the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, killed 44 people in 2017 and destroyed thousands of structures.

A cloud of dirt lifted by Sant Ana winds is seen at a ranch in Plaza Santa Maria south Rosarito Beach, in Baja California state, Mexico, on October 30, 2019.

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