Firefighters had to step aside as winds powered infernos

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 9, 2017 8:12 AM

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The Thomas fire burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.

(Fallbrook, Calif.) -- Firefighters in Southern California were on high alert for dangerous fire potential even before the first blazes broke out.

But once flames met ferocious winds, fire crews were mostly powerless to stop infernos.

Out-of-control fires destroyed nearly 700 buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced hundreds of thousands of people to run from six big fires that have burned over 260 square miles across the region.

State fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser says fires fueled by Santa Ana winds are as unstoppable as tornados and hurricanes.

Firefighters gained ground Friday and some of the earliest evacuees from the weeks fires were returning home, but danger persists.

Vegetation is bone dry and there's been hardly any rainfall.

Forecasts in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas call for gusts up to 40 mph Saturday and up to 50 mph Sunday.

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