Fierce Dry Winds to Blame for Turning 2017 Wildfires Into Horrific Infernos

Santa Barbara Battalion Chief Jim McCoy calls for support as he monitors spot fires on the Ocean side of the 101 Freeway at Faria Beach. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Barbara Battalion Chief Jim McCoy calls for support as he monitors spot fires on the Ocean side of the 101 Freeway at Faria Beach. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When Forest Service meteorologist Tom Rolinski heard that a wildfire had broken out Monday evening in Ventura County, he knew it was going to be bad.

The Thomas fire started in a known wind corridor on the first day of dry Santa Ana winds that are expected to buffet Southern California through the weekend. What’s more, it has been a good eight months since a decent rainfall soaked the chaparral hillsides.

“Fires will spread very rapidly in these conditions and basically will be uncontrollable,” Rolinski said.

By Thursday morning, the Thomas fire had scorched nearly 100,000 acres and destroyed scores of homes in the Ventura area. It was yet another in the string of harrowing wildfires that are searing 2017 into the state’s record books.

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