Santa Ana winds fueling two wildfires
October 14, 2008
LOS ANGELES – Two wildfires driven by strong Santa Ana winds threatened neighborhoods near Los Angeles on Monday, killing a man, destroying several dozen mobile homes and forcing frantic evacuations.
A second person died in a head-on crash on a freeway entrance ramp in traffic snarled by smoke and flames.
Firefighters were struggling with a 5,000-acre blaze in the San Fernando Valley’s northeastern corner when a new blaze erupted at midmorning a few miles to the west in mountains above the Porter Ranch area and quickly grew to 2,000 acres as wind blew up to 45 mph, with gusts reaching 70 mph.
“It is a blowtorch we can’t get in front of,” said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Frank Garrido.
Fire officials could not immediately estimate how many homes in Porter Ranch were in the fire’s path. Flames burned furiously at midday just across a road from one development of luxury homes. Fire officials alerted other communities as far south as Malibu, 20 miles away.