are burning out of control Wednesday night across Southern California. One is in the heart of Los Angeles.
For much of the day, a major stretch of a major highway, the 405, was shut down. The fires are being fueled by the notorious Santa Ana winds, which are expected to kick up again overnight.
Nearly 200 structures have burned. It’s not clear how many are homes.
Tens of thousands have evacuated from areas, including L.A.’s most prestigious and densely populated neighborhoods.
At daybreak, it was a traffic nightmare on the Interstate 405, one of the nation’s busiest freeways, CBS News’ Carter Evans reports.
On the ridge above Bel Air, one of L.A.’s most exclusive neighborhoods, as flames raced up the hillside, multi-million dollar homes lay directly in its path. And the battle on the ground became desperate.
CBS News caught sight of a fire burning inside a home, burning through a garage door, the staircase, even the roof. There was nothing firefighters could do as part of the roof crashed down.
From the air, the extent of the damage became apparent, with plumes of smoke stretching for miles above Los Angeles. Back in Bel Air, there were flames shooting through the roof of that home. It doesn’t matter how much water they put on the fire — they just couldn’t seem to put it out.
“We’re doing all we can, but it’s a very difficult task,” said L.A. City Fire Captain John Maestri. He agreed that no amount of water is enough.
No amount of firefighters were enough either. They hadn’t reached Azita Kaboud’s home.
“This is my neighbor’s home,” Azita said. “It’s going to burn down. Please tell them to come!”
Her husband, Maurice, hosed down as much as he could, the fire now next door.
He called it “the worst feeling in the whole world” to watch his and his neighbors’ houses burn to the ground.
L.A. county fire came in with the water drop when there was a bit of a break in the winds. But the really heavy winds are expected to pick up Wednesday night.
CBS News’ David Begnaud reports there is a new warning about the wind. As the wind shifted, the toxic smoke that was blowing offshore started to blow back onshore into areas of Ventura County, where the Thomas Fire is burning. Officials put out an alert to Ventura County residents that there would be a severe impact on air quality and visibility.
Firefighters have been told to get ready and rest up because Thursday could be a wild day, Begnaud reports.
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