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    Wayan Ranti, right, watches a TV with her family in a temporary shelter following the eruption of Mount Agung in Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. Bali’s glowering Mount Agung has seemingly quietened since hurling huge columns of ash from its crater a week ago but some villagers who survived its catastrophic 1963 explosions say they believe a bigger eruption is coming. Explosions from the smoking crater and tremors still rattle the surrounding region and authorities have maintained Agung’s alert at the highest level. Its 1963 eruptions killed about 1,100 people. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

    Remembering 1963 eruption, Bali's elderly wary of another

    December 3, 2017

    KLUNGKUNG, Indonesia (AP) — Bali's glowering Mount Agung has seemingly quieted since hurling huge columns of ash from its crater a week ago, but some villagers on the Indonesian island who survived the catastrophic 1963 explosions believe a bigger eruption is coming.

    Ash plumes have dissipated in the past few days though an online seismogram from the mountain's monitoring post resembles a crazed abstract painting, indicating the tremendous forces churning within.

    Explosions from the smoking crater and tremors still rattle the surrounding region and authorities have maintained Agung's alert at the highest level. Its 1963 eruptions killed about 1,100 people.

    "The situation now is almost the same," said Nengah Tresni, who was 12 when Agung erupted in 1963. She recalls being at one of the Hindu temples that dot the volcano's slopes and the sky suddenly turning dark as she left with her family.

    "I'm sure there will be a big eruption. It is just a matter of time," said Tresni, who came with family members on Tuesday to an aging sports center that's serving as an evacuation camp after officials told them to leave their village.

    "In the old eruption many people did not expect it to be big because there were small eruptions for a long time and villagers just went to the temple to pray," she said.

    It's the second time Tresni has fled to the camp since September, when the 3,140-meter (10,300-foot) volcano burst into life after more than half a century of inactivity. Officials lowered the volcano's alert level at the end of October and most of the 140,000 people who had evacuated returned home. It proved to be a brief respite.

    "I actually didn't want to go back because I thought there would be big eruptions, but my family wanted to go home," she said. "And now we're refugees here again."

    Nyoman Siki from a village high on the volcano's slopes was 6 or 7 years old in 1963 and remembers it being said that 200 people from his area were killed. But he was philosophical about the situation. When people returned a year after the eruption, he said they were happy because it had renewed the fertility of the land.

    "After years of cultivation, the volcano is just about to erupt again," he said.

    More than 55,000 people are living in shelters such as sports halls, temples and tent camps since officials expanded the no-go area around the volcano on Monday. Many centers appear well organized, but one visited by Associated Press reporters in Rendang district on Saturday was tightly packed and muddy from the frequent rains. Tourists who were stranded when the idyllic island's airport closed for nearly three days have rushed to leave.

    Nyoman Merta said that after the 1963 eruption, he and his family walked for three days from their village before authorities picked them up and took them to an evacuation camp.

    "I was 9 years old but I can remember many people still stayed. There were no warnings like now and maybe that was why many people were killed then," he said.

    The family stayed in Denpasar in the south of Bali for a year. When they returned home, he said, their house was uninhabitable because of damage caused by the eruptions.

    He compared the recent months of escalating danger signs from Agung with 1963.

    Scientists agree the danger remains though making an exact prediction is difficult if not impossible.

    "At all volcanoes we can expect fluctuations in activity. This does not mean that the threat is over," said Heather Handley, a volcanologist at Sydney's Macquarie University. "It is clearly still in an active phase."

    In the 1963 eruption, there were small ash explosions in February followed by a lava flow and then a large explosive eruption on March 17, she said. A second major eruption occurred two months later "so activity can stop and start again," said Handley.

    At the muddy Rendang camp, bare-chested 77-year-old Nyoman Arse remembered the 1963 disaster in great detail and was unperturbed by Agung's ash eruptions in the past week.

    Recalling events when he was 24, Arse said the mountain sent out ash for a month and then exploded about the same time as Galungan, an important religious celebration in majority Hindu Bali that in 1963 fell in mid-March.

    "I saw the rocks coming down the mountain with a very loud noise," he said, imitating crashing sounds. "The rocks were huge," he said. "What's happening now is still nothing."

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    A Los Angeles County firefighter puts water a burning house in a wildfire in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Ferocious winds in Southern California have whipped up explosive wildfires, burning a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures. Tens of thousands of people have been ordered evacuated. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    California communities under siege from wind-driven fires

    December 5, 2017

    VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Wind-driven fires tore through California communities Tuesday for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.

    The most damaging fire was in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, where 150 structures were confirmed destroyed. But a fire official said he suspected "hundreds more" would be lost when flames died down enough to make a thorough assessment.

    In the San Gabriel Mountains foothills of Los Angeles about 45 miles (72 kilometers) away from the city, 30 structures burned. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the gusty winds expected to last most of the week had created a dangerous situation and he urged 150,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders to leave their homes before it's too late.

    "We have lost structures, we have not lost lives," he said. "Do not wait. Leave your homes."

    The fires in Ventura County lit up hillsides and spread rapidly Monday evening from rural rolling hills to dense subdivisions. Residents, already warned of extreme fire danger, were sent automated phone alerts and evacuations appeared to proceed smoothly.

    As the sun rose Tuesday, the first of at least three additional Southern California fires broke out, fueled by stiff winds that prevented firefighting aircraft most of the day from dumping water to protect homes or attack the march of flames.

    In addition to prompting hasty evacuations, the fires shut down two freeways for hours and sent heavy, acrid smoke billowing over the Los Angeles area, creating a health hazard for millions.

    There were no immediate reports of any deaths. Two people were critically injured in a small San Bernardino County fire, but no other serious injuries were reported. The fires were under investigation and no causes had been found.

    The Ventura wildfire exploded to nearly 80 square miles (207 square kilometers) in a matter of hours. It was fanned by dry Santa Ana winds clocked at well over 60 mph (96 kph) and spit embers up to a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) ahead of fire lines.

    Lisa Kermode ignored the first evacuation alert that buzzed on her phone when it said the fire was 15 miles (24 kilometers) away from her home. But the flames were nearly on top of her an hour later when she rounded up her three children, still in their pajamas, and told them to grab some jeans so they could leave.

    They returned home Tuesday to find their home and world in ashes, including a Christmas tree and the presents they had just bought.

    "We got knots in our stomach coming back up here," Kermode said. "We lost everything, everything, all our clothes, anything that was important to us. All our family heirlooms — it's not sort of gone, it's completely gone."

    The fires came just eight weeks after the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in state history burned through Northern California and its fabled wine country and killed 44 people dead and destroyed 8,900 homes and other buildings.

    Fires are not typical in Southern California this time of year but can break out when dry vegetation and too little rain combine with the Santa Ana winds. Hardly any measurable rain has fallen in the region over the past six months.

    Like the deadly October fires in Napa and Sonoma counties, the new blazes were in areas more suburban than rural.

    Fires in those settings are likely to become more frequent as climate change makes fire season a year-round threat and will put greater pressure on local budgets, said Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College who has written extensively about wildfires.

    "There are going to be far greater numbers that are going to be evacuated, as we're seeing now," Miller said. "These fires are not just fast and furious, but they're really expensive to fight."

    Some 3,000 homes remained under threat in Ventura County, said Todd Derum of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials expect a better assessment of damage Wednesday, but suspect "hundreds more" homes were lost, Derum said.

    Mansions and modest homes alike were in flames in Ventura. The Hawaiian Village Apartments burned to the ground. The Vista del Mar Hospital, which treats patients with mental problems or substance abuse, including veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, smoldered after dawn. All patients were safely evacuated.

    Aerial footage showed dozens of homes in one neighborhood burned to the ground and a large subdivision in jeopardy as embers blew about wildly. Burned-out cars sat on their wheel rims next to destroyed homes.

    More than 27,000 people were evacuated, and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County.

    The fire erupted near Santa Paula, a city of about 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles known for its citrus and avocado orchards and farm fields along the Santa Clara River.

    "We had the fire come through here, pretty dramatically, all night long," said Karen Heath-Karayan, who stayed up with her husband to douse embers that rained on their home and small lot where they sell Christmas trees. "It was really scary."

    They were ordered to evacuate as flames got within about 100 yards (90 meters), but decided to protect their property and chickens and goats. They hosed down their roof and hit hotspots before winds pushed the fire over a hill toward Ventura, a city of 106,000.

    "It was just exponential, huge growth because the winds, 50 mile an hour out of the east, were just pushing it and growing it very, very large, very quickly," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said.

    The fire on the northern edge of Los Angeles near the city's Sylmar neighborhood was estimated at more than 17 square miles (44 square kilometers).

    Alan Barnard watched flames come downhill toward his Lakeview Terrace home and told his wife to grab their 11-month-old grandson and leave. He collected a few possessions and then took his dog and left the quiet cul-de-sac.

    When he returned later, a bedroom and his garage were destroyed, but three-quarters of the house remained intact.

    "We're pretty much out of the main danger now," he said as he tried to spray hotspots with a garden hose. "We consider ourselves very lucky."

    Southern California's gusty Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region's most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland West toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.

    Nearly 180,000 electrical customers in the Ventura County lost power, and schools in the district were closed. Some firefighting efforts were hampered when pumping stations lost power and hydrants ran dry.

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    Melley reported from Los Angeles. Amanda Lee Myers in Ventura and Chris Carlson, Michael Balsamo, Robert Jablon and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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    For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires

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    Horses are evacuated from a ranch along Kagel Canyon at the Creek fire, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in La Canada Flintridge, Calif. Raked by ferocious Santa Ana winds, explosive wildfires northwest of Los Angeles and in the city's foothills burned a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures Tuesday and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

    The Latest: 'Westworld' delays production amid wildfires

    December 5, 2017

    SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in Southern California (all times local):

    8:30 p.m.

    Production of TV shows including HBO's "Westworld" has been halted amid Southern California's wildfires.

    HBO said in a statement that the sci-fi drama was filming its second season in an area near two Los Angeles County fires on Tuesday but producers decided to shut down and avoid any danger to actors or crew members.

    The statement says "Westworld" will resume filming when it is safe.

    Filming on the CBS show "S.W.A.T." was also suspended.

    Many shows shoot outdoor scenes in the outskirts north of the city, where two large blazes have choked the air with smoke and are threatening thousands of homes and buildings.

    The Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, who hold workouts near the largest of Southern California's fires, canceled Wednesday's practice.

    ___

    6:05 p.m.

    Erratic winds are hampering efforts to battle a 100-acre (40-hectare) brushfire in Southern California that has left two people burned, one critically.

    The fire erupted Tuesday afternoon in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles. Gusty Santa Ana winds have pushed it through the area.

    Fire officials say some garages have been damaged but no houses have burned and hundreds of homes and businesses have been saved.

    Authorities have not determined what sparked the fire but they say two people were found badly burned near the point of its origin near a McDonald's restaurant.

    The blaze is one of four wildfires in Southern California that have burned some 200 homes and other buildings and prompted evacuation orders for at least 150,000 people.

    ___

    5:45 p.m.

    A fire official says he suspects hundreds more homes have been destroyed by a Southern California wildfire.

    Incident Commander Todd Derum told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that those homes would add to the toll of 150 already destroyed by the fire in Ventura County, one of three major fires burning in the region.

    Firefighters have been unable to reach some of the severely burned areas to confirm lost homes. But Derum says a bigger tally will likely come on Wednesday.

    Derum says some 3,000 homes are threatened.

    The National Weather Service says the wild winds and dry conditions that have allowed the fires to grow are expected to remain until Thursday and could spill into Friday.

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    5:45 p.m.

    The evacuation area for a wildfire burning in Los Angeles now covers 150,000 people.

    At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the blaze remains out of control and gusty winds continue to fan the flames.

    About 30 homes have burned and Garcetti urged people to pack up and go rather than wait and risk their lives.

    He said shelters can accommodate as many as 12,000 people.

    The fire in the areas of Sylmar, Tujunga and Sunland began early Tuesday. A second blaze a dozen miles east in the city of Santa Clarita has prompted the evacuation of 1,300 homes but none have burned.

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    2:20 p.m.

    California's wildfires are spreading because of strong winds.

    A fire in Ventura County about 60 miles (144 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles has expanded to 78 square miles (126 square kilometers) as of Tuesday afternoon.

    An early morning estimate put the number of destroyed structures at around 150, but more homes have been seen burning throughout the day.

    Elsewhere in California, a fire in the Lakeview Terrace and Sylmar neighborhoods of Los Angeles has expanded to 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) and another near the city of Santa Clarita is 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers).

    About 60 miles (96 kilometers) east in the city of San Bernardino, a new fire is burning just 25 acres (10 hectares) but the county fire department says firefighters are being assigned to protect buildings and ambulances have been requested for three people who suffered burns.

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    1:37 p.m.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Ventura County, location of the largest of wildfires currently burning in the state.

    The fire 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles ignited Monday evening near the city of Santa Paula.

    Winds have pushed it west into the city of Ventura, where homes continued to burn Tuesday afternoon.

    The governor says the fire is very dangerous and residents must be ready to evacuate if told to do so.

    His emergency declaration sets in motion state firefighting assistance to local governments and suspends rules that might hinder recovery efforts after the fires are put out.

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    12:45 p.m.

    An unusually bad year for California wildfires has seen more than 1 million acres (1,500 square miles) burn so far in 2017.

    The latest data released Tuesday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection covers land under both state and federal protection. The total area burned in the state this year is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

    The figures released this week don't include the wind-driven wildfires currently raging in Southern California.

    State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott has told lawmakers that climate change is spawning more and bigger wildfires. Blazes on land under Cal Fire's protection this year have burned more than twice the recent five-year average.

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    11:25 a.m.

    A third Southern California wildfire has broken out on the northern edge of Los Angeles, sweeping across 200 acres and closing the northbound lanes of Interstate 5.

    Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby says the fire started about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

    Further details were not immediately available, but television footage showed the flames burning across dry hillside area.

    Santa Clarita, home to the California Institute of the Arts, is about 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Interstate 5 is a major link connecting Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area.

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    11:10 a.m.

    A wind-driven wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles is blanketing a huge swatch of the city with thick dirty smoke, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay inside and refrain from strenuous physical activity.

    Billowing clouds of black and grey smoke erupting from the fire spread quickly across the region Monday, fouling air across the city's San Fernando Valley and drifting to the beachfront communities of Malibu and Santa Monica.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the air far dirtier, and more health-threatening, than any the city sees during even its worst smog days.

    The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory for Los Angeles County's 10 million residents. People are urged to stay inside and filter the air with their air conditioners.

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    9:15 a.m.

    A wind-driven wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles has grown to more than 6 square miles (15.5 sq. kilometers) and 2,500 homes have been evacuated.

    Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson says numerous structures are burning Tuesday morning, but he has no specific numbers.

    More than 400 firefighters and 50 fire engines are on the scene near the Lakeview Terrace and Sylmar neighborhoods.

    It's one of two major wildfires burning in Southern California as powerful Santa Ana winds sweep the region.

    About 60 miles to the northwest, a fire has spread over 70 square miles in Ventura County and an estimated 150 structures have burned.

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    8:13 a.m.

    Authorities estimate a wind-driven Southern California wildfire has grown to more than 70 square miles (181 sq. kilometers).

    Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says the fire grew exponentially early Tuesday after breaking out Monday evening about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

    Lorenzen says more than 150 structures have burned. The fire is burning west toward the city of Ventura.

    Another fire burning on the northern edge of Los Angeles is estimated at nearly 4 square miles (10 sq. kilometers).

    ___

    6:20 a.m.

    A psychiatric hospital has burned in a raging wildfire in Southern California that has spread over 48 square miles and destroyed 150 structures in Ventura County, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

    A live view of Vista del Mar Hospital broadcast by KCBS-TV shows the structure in flames. The facility treats patients with mental health problems, chemical dependency and veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

    The Los Angeles Fire Department says there's also a new fire on the north edge of the city that is threatening portions of the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighborhoods.

    The department says evacuations are now being coordinated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

    The fires are being spread by the region's notorious Santa Ana winds. Meteorologists say it's the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season.

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    3:50 a.m.

    A wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California has scorched 48 square miles, destroyed 150 structures and left one firefighter injured, and officials say winds are increasing.

    Authorities say the blaze broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

    By early Tuesday, more than 27,000 people have been evacuated. It wasn't clear if the structures burned were homes or businesses. There was no immediate word on the extent of the firefighter's injury.

    Earlier, evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

    Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

    Southern California Edison says nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without service.

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    2 a.m.

    Nearly 8,000 homes have been evacuated after a wind-whipped wildfire exploded overnight in Southern California.

    Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The flames reached about 40 square miles by early Tuesday.

    Evacuation orders were expanded to include homes in Ventura, a city with over 100,000 residents.

    The National Weather Service says gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue.

    Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear if they were homes.

    Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

    Southern California Edison says nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura county area were without service.

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    10 p.m.

    Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire, which forced more than 600 homes to evacuate.

    Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The flames reached nearly 8 square miles just hours later.

    Officials say one person has died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details.

    Authorities say Ventura, a city of over 100,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire soon.

    Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated.

    The National Weather Service says winds of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue.

    Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear what they were.

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    Flames from the Thomas fire burn above a truck on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

    Bel-Air wildfire joins the siege across Southern California

    December 6, 2017

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wildfire erupted in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel-Air section Wednesday as yet another part of Southern California found itself under siege from an outbreak of wind-whipped blazes that have consumed multimillion-dollar houses and tract homes alike.

    Hundreds of homes across the L.A. metropolitan area and beyond were feared destroyed since Monday, but firefighters were only slowly managing to make their way into some of the hard-hit areas for an accurate count.

    As many as five fires have closed highways, schools and museums, shut down production of TV series and cast a hazardous haze over the region. About 200,000 people were under evacuation orders. No deaths and only a few injuries were reported.

    From the beachside city of Ventura, where rows of homes were leveled, to the rugged foothills north of Los Angeles, where more than two dozen horses died at a boarding stable, to Bel-Air, where the rich and famous have sweeping views of L.A. below, fierce Santa Ana winds sweeping in from the desert fanned the flames and fears.

    "God willing, this will slow down so the firefighters can do their job," said Maurice Kaboud, who ignored an evacuation order and stood in his backyard with a garden hose at the ready.

    Air tankers that were grounded most of Tuesday because of high winds flew on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant. Firefighters rushed to attack the fires before winds picked up again.

    They were expected to gust as high as 80 mph (about 130 kph) overnight into Thursday, possibly creating unprecedented fire danger. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which uses a color-coded wind index, issued a purple forecast, the most severe, for the first time ever, director Ken Pimlott said.

    "They're going to be extreme tomorrow," Pimlott said. "We need to have everybody's heads up — heads on a swivel — and pay very close attention."

    Before dawn Wednesday, flames exploded on the steep slopes of Sepulveda Pass, closing a section of heavily traveled Interstate 405 and destroying four homes in Bel-Air, where houses range from $2 million to tens of millions of dollars.

    Firefighters hosed down a burning Tudor-style house as helicopters dropped water on hillsides to protect homes from the 150-acre (60-hectare) blaze.

    A Christmas tree saved from the flames was in the front yard of a burned-out house and a large painting was propped against a Range Rover.

    Flames burned a wine storage shed at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 16-acre (6.5-hectare) Moraga Vineyards estate and appeared to have damaged about 7 acres (2.8 hectares) of vines, a spokeswoman said.

    Bel-Air was the site of a catastrophic fire in 1961 that burned nearly 500 homes. Burt Lancaster and Zsa Zsa Gabor were among the celebrities who lost houses.

    Across the wide I-405 freeway from the fire, the Getty Center art complex was closed to protect its collection from smoke damage. Many schools across Los Angeles were closed because of poor air quality and classes were canceled at 265 schools Thursday.

    UCLA, at the edge of the Bel-Air evacuation zone, canceled afternoon classes and its evening basketball game. Students on campus wore dust and surgical masks.

    By late afternoon, firefighters said they had controlled the fire's advance.

    Production of HBO's "Westworld" and the CBS show "S.W.A.T." was suspended because of the danger to cast and crew from two nearby fires.

    In Ventura County northwest of L.A., the biggest and most destructive of the wildfires grew beyond 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) and had nearly reached the Pacific on Tuesday night after starting 30 miles (about 45 kilometers) inland a day earlier.

    The fire destroyed at least 150 structures, but incident commander Todd Derum said he suspects hundreds of homes have been lost.

    Along a stretch of a hilly subdivision with stunning ocean and mountain views above Ventura, about 65 homes were razed. Fewer than 30 houses still stood in the same area, where embers glowed and trees smoldered. Homes farther up the road fared much better, with only two burned and 42 intact.

    While winds were calmer Wednesday, the fire remained active around Ventura, spreading along the coast to the west and up into the mountains around the community of Ojai and into the agricultural city of Santa Paula.

    "We're basically in an urban firefight in Ventura, where if you can keep that house from burning, you might be able to slow the fire down," said Tim Chavez, a fire behavior specialist at the blaze. "But that's about it."

    ___

    Amanda Lee Myers in Ventura and John Antczak, Jae Hong, Reed Saxon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

    ___

    For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires

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    A volunteer passes supplies donated to Thomas fire evacuees in Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. As many as five fires have closed highways, schools and museums, shut down production of TV series and cast a hazardous haze over the region. About 200,000 people were under evacuation orders. No deaths and only a few injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

    The Latest: Surge in California fire brings new evacuations

    December 7, 2017

    VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Southern California wildfires (all times local):

    10:30 p.m.

    A surge from the biggest of the wildfires burning in Southern California has forced several thousand more people to evacuate in a community of artists and resorts.

    Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Eric Buschow says flames have been creeping closer and slowly surrounding the town of Ojai (OH'hi), and Wednesday night increasing winds brought them close enough to expand evacuation orders there.

    Flames, now about 4 miles away, were visible from the city's downtown for the first time on Tuesday night, and ash was raining down.

    Parts of Ojai were already under evacuation orders, and the entire valley surrounding it had been under a voluntary evacuation advisory since the fire broke out on Monday.

    The new evacuations meant most of the town of about 7,000 people was under mandatory orders.

    Nearly 30,000 people are under evacuation orders for the fire.

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    This story corrects the day of the week.

    ___

    7:50 p.m.

    The largest and most destructive wildfire in Southern California has grown to 140 square miles and fire officials say the worst may be yet to come.

    The 90,000-acre fire burning in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles has swept through ridges and canyons to the sea and Santa Ana winds that drove it are expected to return with a vengeance overnight.

    State fire director Ken Pimlott says winds that eased in the afternoon could return with gusts up to 80 mph Thursday that would make it impossible to fight the fire.

    Dozens of homes have burned since the blaze erupted Monday. Nearly 1,800 firefighters and a fleet of aircraft are fighting the flames but the blaze is only 5 percent contained and an estimated 12,000 buildings are in danger.

    ___

    6:20 p.m.

    A wildfire in a wealthy western area of Los Angeles has reached the estate and winery owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

    Roxanne Langer at Moraga Vineyards in Bel Air says a temperature-controlled wine storage shed burned after the fire erupted before dawn Wednesday but it's unclear how much wine was lost.

    She says firefighters stepped in to douse the flames with the aid of helicopters and that other storage sheds, the winery itself and the estate's unoccupied house are not damaged.

    The winery has been evacuated.

    Murdoch bought the property for about $30 million in 2013.

    Langer says it appears the 7 acres (2.8 hectares) of vines suffered only slight damage and the grapes already had been harvested.

    In a Facebook statement, Murdoch says some neighbors suffered heavy losses and his thoughts and prayers are with them.

    ___

    3:45 p.m.

    Firefighters have stopped the spread of a wildfire that has destroyed homes near the world-famous Getty museum in Los Angeles.

    Deputy Fire Chief Charles Butler says firefighters and aircraft stopped the growth of the 475-acre (192-hectare) blaze in the Bel Air neighborhood.

    There are currently few visible flames and crews are concentrating on the southwest corner of the fire.

    Butler says four homes have been destroyed and 11 damaged since the blaze erupted before dawn Wednesday in an area that includes many hilltop mansions.

    About 700 homes, an apartment building and a school have been ordered evacuated.

    Northeast winds driving the flames eased by afternoon but are expected to return in full force Wednesday night. Firefighters are struggling to ring the blaze before that happens.

    ___

    3:15 p.m.

    California's top firefighter says the state is in for the worst Santa Ana wind conditions it's ever seen.

    Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says the wind wildfire threat to Southern California for Thursday is purple. The has color has never been used before, means there is extreme danger and that fires that erupt will burn uncontrollably.

    Below that is red, meaning high danger of fires that burn rapidly and intensely and are difficult to control.

    Pimlott says the winds could hit 80 mph (129 kph) and make it impossible to fight Southern California wildfires that have destroyed at least 200 homes and buildings.

    Five wind-driven flames continue to threaten homes in Ventura and Los Angeles. Some 200,000 people are under evacuation orders.

    ___

    1:25 p.m.

    The University of California, Los Angeles, has canceled classes for the rest of the day due to difficult traffic problems stemming from a wildfire.

    The university's website says many students, faculty and staff have been unable to reach the campus Wednesday, so classes from noon onward are canceled.

    The athletics department says a night men's basketball game and all other team workouts and practices are canceled.

    The fire erupted before dawn in the Sepulveda Pass, just up Interstate 405 from UCLA. The fire has destroyed some homes as it spread into the Bel Air area.

    ___

    10 a.m.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says at least four and possibly six homes have been destroyed by a wildfire in the city's Bel Air area.

    The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday in Sepulveda Pass, a major commuter route between the west side of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to the north.

    The fire burned up hillsides on the east side of the pass into expensive neighborhoods that are now under evacuation orders.

    The mayor says the fire is now 150 acres with zero containment.

    Some 500 firefighters are battling the fire along with water-dropping helicopters and airplanes laying down streams of fire retardant.

    The dangerous Santa Ana winds that have fanned fires across Southern California this week have diminished over the new LA fire but conditions are very dry, with just 9 percent relative humidity.

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    9:15 a.m.

    President Donald Trump says his thoughts and prayers "are with everyone" in the path of California's latest wildfires.

    Trump in a tweet is also encouraging everyone "to heed the advice and orders of local and state officials" and thanking first responders for their "incredible work!"

    Wind-driven fires have raced through California communities for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.

    The most damaging fire is in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, where more than 100 square miles (259 sq. kilometers) and numerous homes have burned.

    Deadly fires tore through Northern California earlier this year.

    ___

    8:03 a.m.

    The biggest and most destructive of several wildfires burning in Southern California has scorched more than 101 square miles.

    State fire authorities say the fire burning in Ventura County about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles is also considered a threat to 12,000 structures Wednesday.

    Dozens of homes have burned since the fire erupted Monday amid fierce Santa Ana winds.

    A new fire burning among ridges and canyons on the west side of Los Angeles has also burned several homes while snarling morning commuter traffic.

    ___

    7:35 a.m.

    Two homes are burning in a wildfire that has erupted in an exclusive ridge-top neighborhood in Los Angeles, the latest to hit fire-plagued Southern California.

    The fire broke out before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Interstate 405 in the Sepulveda Pass and raced up steep slopes into neighborhoods at the top.

    The Los Angeles Fire Department has deployed hundreds of firefighters and called in helicopters and airplanes.

    Evacuations have been ordered and a wider area has been told to be ready for orders to leave.

    It's the same region of Los Angeles where hundreds of homes burned in the famous 1961 Bel Air Fire.

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    6:52 a.m.

    Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in an exclusive ridge-top neighborhood in Los Angeles as a dangerous new wildfire burns in Southern California.

    The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains on the city's western side.

    Helicopters are making water drops and more than 200 firefighters are battling flames close to homes.

    In addition to the mandatory evacuations, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart says a wider area on the east side of the pass has been advised to get ready in case of evacuation orders.

    ___

    5:35 a.m.

    A brush fire has erupted on the west side of Los Angeles along Interstate 405 in Sepulveda Pass.

    Fire Department spokesman Margaret Stewart says the fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday and is burning uphill, driven by topography rather than winds.

    Stewart says 47 firefighters are on the scene, setting up protection for homes at the top of the steep slopes. Two firefighting helicopters have been assigned.

    Sepulveda Pass carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains between the western neighborhoods of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to the north.

    ___

    12:40 a.m.

    The same vicious winds that made three Southern California wildfires so destructive are also making the firefight itself more difficult.

    The water-dropping planes and helicopters essential to fighting massive fires have been mostly grounded because it's too dangerous to fly in the strong gusts.

    Commanders hoped to have them back in the air on Wednesday morning, but all indications are the winds will be whipping then too.

    The blazes brought evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people, destroyed nearly 200 homes and have remained mostly out control.

    The largest and most destructive of the blazes, an 85-square-mile wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, had nearly reached the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday night after starting 30 miles inland a day earlier.

    ___

    The 5:35 a.m. entry has been corrected to say west side.

    .

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    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2017, file photo, work continues on the Oroville Dam spillway in Oroville, Calif. California water officials plan to update a Northern California community about their efforts to repair the nation's tallest dam after damage to its spillways forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate last February. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

    Californians blast state over repairs to tallest US dam

    December 7, 2017

    OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Living in the shadow of the nation's tallest dam, the residents of this Northern California town had a complicated relationship with state water managers long before they were ordered to evacuate last February amid fears that a broken spillway would prompt catastrophic flooding.

    Decades of frustration over broken promises about the dam met fresh concerns about small cracks in a newly rebuilt spillway Wednesday at a public meeting. There, residents of the town of about 19,000 told state officials they have no credibility when they say the fractures are nothing to worry about.

    Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening in the more populous community of Yuba City, about an hour drive south of the dam and directly downstream from it.

    Nearly 200,000 people had to evacuate eight months ago because of severe damage to the spillways at Oroville Dam, which prompted fears of devastating floods. The crisis was averted, but concern lingers as the rainy winter season begins again and officials prepare the partially rebuilt spillway for potential use.

    Wednesday's meeting was the third hosted by the California Department of Water Resources in Oroville and the first since federal officials made public their concerns about a series of hairline cracks in freshly laid concrete on the new spillway. State officials said cracking is normal and federal regulators agreed that no immediate repairs are necessary, but not everyone is convinced.

    "We heard that in 2009 when we saw DWR fixing cracks on the spillway, that it was completely normal, that it was no concern," said Oroville resident Genoa Widener. "And then we were told to run for our lives. So you telling us that it's normal is not enough."

    The trouble at Oroville Dam began in early February, when a massive crater opened up in the main spillway, a concrete chute that releases water from Lake Oroville, California's second-largest reservoir.

    Crews shut down the spillway for inspection just as a major storm dumped a torrent of rain in the Feather River basin. With the main spillway damaged and unused, the lake quickly filled to capacity and water began flowing over a concrete weir that serves as an emergency spillway. It had never before been used.

    The water eroded the barren hillside beneath the concrete, leading to fears the weir would collapse and release a wall of water that would swamp communities and destroy levies for miles downstream.

    State officials have said the hundreds of small cracks in new concrete are different from the cracks that experts believe may have contributed to erosion that caused the original spillway to buckle.

    The state water agency had a frosty relationship with Oroville for decades before the town was forced to evacuate. Many residents say the agency failed to live up to promises of grand recreational and tourism amenities when they dammed the Feather River to create Lake Oroville. Instead, they say, they endure the danger so the state can store and deliver water for parched Southern California and generate power with hydroelectric turbines.

    "You took our water, you took our power, you took our land and we got nothing," said Debbie Norris of Oroville.

    State officials have closed a scenic road that spans the top of the dam during spillway construction and have deferred a decision about whether it will ever be re-opened due to safety concerns.

    Several residents said the road closure has cut off access to beloved recreational areas.

    "The way of life I wanted, which is why I moved to Oroville, has been taken away from me," Gail Hastain said in an interview. "DWR has taken advantage of this town."

    Hastain said she's lost access to a bike path she loved and a walking trail that her mother was able to navigate in her wheelchair.

    Construction crews are working quickly to rebuild the main spillway and fortify the barren hillside in case the emergency spillway needs to be used again — a project estimated at about $500 million. About a third of the spillway has been fully rebuilt so far, while the rest has been fortified for the winter with plans to finish next year.

    Officials drained Lake Oroville about 80 feet (24 meters) below its typical level for the start of winter, providing extra reservoir storage for incoming water from winter rain and spring snowmelt. On Wednesday, the lake was 200 feet (61 meters) below its maximum capacity.

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    Steve Andruszkiewicz waters down his beach house as the sun is visible through thick smoke from a wildfire at Faria State Beach in Ventura, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The wind-swept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    The Latest: San Diego fire burns 1,000 acres

    December 7, 2017

    VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Southern California wildfires (all times local):

    3:05 p.m.

    A fast-growing wildfire fanned by Santa Ana winds in rural San Diego County has burned 1,000 acres (400 hectares) only hours after starting.

    State fire authorities said Thursday more than five buildings have been destroyed, an unknown number has been damaged and more than 1,000 others are threatened around Bonsall. The picturesque community of 4,000 people amid rolling hills is known for its equestrian facilities.

    Officials shut down state Highway 76 in both directions, ordered mandatory evacuations around Bonsall and opened shelters at schools and casinos. The blaze started shortly after 11 a.m.

    State officials said the military was assisting with helicopters. The area is near Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.

    It's the latest wind-driven fire in Southern California, including destructive blazes to the northwest in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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    2:50 p.m.

    A text alert about dangerous fire weather conditions that was sent to 12 million Southern Californians in seven counties was the widest ever issued by the state Office of Emergency Services.

    Winds early Thursday turned out not to be as dire as predicted, but Emergency Service Deputy Director Kelly Huston says the office erred on the side of caution because conditions were similar to those that led to 44 deaths in fires that broke out across Northern California on Oct. 8.

    Huston says he would rather be criticized for potentially annoying someone than for not delivering a critical alert.

    Some Northern Californians complained they never received evacuation alerts as the firestorms developed, and state lawmakers on Thursday announced plans to introduce legislation establishing statewide emergency alert protocols.

    ___

    2:45 p.m.

    A fast-moving wildfire fanned by Santa Ana winds has burned more than 500 acres (200 hectares) in rural San Diego County within hours of starting.

    State fire authorities said Thursday more than five buildings have been destroyed, an unknown number has been damaged and more than 1,000 others are threatened around the community of Bonsall.

    Officials shut down state Highway 76 in both directions and ordered mandatory evacuations around Bonsall. The blaze started shortly after 11 a.m.

    Evacuations include a mobile home park, a golf course country club and two schools. Two lanes of Interstate 15 are also closed.

    It's the latest wind-driven fire in Southern California, including destructive blazes to the northwest in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

    ___

    1 p.m.

    San Diego County officials have ordered mandatory evacuations due to a fast-moving fire fanned by Santa Ana winds.

    California state fire authorities say in a statement that the fire has destroyed two buildings and damaged 12.

    The fire was reported about 11 a.m. Thursday near the rural community of Bonsall and has grown to 150 acres (60 hectares) amid gusts up to 35 mph (56 kph).

    The evacuations include a mobile home park, a golf course country club and two schools. Two lanes of Interstate 15 are also closed.

    It's the latest among wind-driven fires in Southern California, including destructive blazes to the northwest in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

    ___

    11:30 a.m.

    Residents are being ordered to evacuate a tiny beachfront community northwest of Los Angeles where a huge wildfire is churning down hillsides toward seaside homes.

    A California Highway Patrol officer drove through Faria Beach Thursday announcing the evacuations through a loudspeaker as surging winds roiled smoke through the streets.

    Residents used garden hoses to spray palm trees to keep them from burning as firefighters scrambled to stop the progress of flames.

    U.S. 101 along the coast was intermittently closed, as were several highways in and around the Ventura County resort town of Ojai (OH'-hi), where most of the 7,000 residents are under evacuation orders.

    Thousands of homes remain threatened by at least four major Southern California wildfires that have destroyed structures and sent residents fleeing.

    ___

    8:45 a.m.

    A sheriff's official says a woman has been found dead after a car crash in an area under a mandatory evacuation order as the largest of the wildfires raged in Southern California.

    Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Donoghue tells The Associated Press that the woman's body was found Wednesday night at the scene of a crash in the Wheeler Canyon area of Santa Paula.

    Donoghue says the car was found off the roadway after what appeared to be a single-car crash. He says there were no witnesses to the crash, but no foul play is suspected.

    Donoghue says investigators were still trying to determine if the death was connected to the wildfires or if the person was trying to evacuate from the area.

    The woman's name hasn't been released and a cause of death is still being determined.

    ___

    6:45 a.m.

    Southern California authorities have ordered evacuations for the first time in Santa Barbara County as crews protect coastal communities from a destructive wildfire that's steadily marching west and northwest.

    A key stretch of U.S. 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties was intermittently closed Thursday as flames jumped lanes.

    Residents of 300 homes in the oceanfront city of Carpinteria were ordered to leave before dawn. A few miles down the coast, crews beat back flames creeping down hillsides toward the seaside hamlet of La Conchita, where at least one abandoned structure burned.

    In Los Angeles County firefighters are watching for flare-ups as they try to contain three major blazes that have destroyed homes and sent thousands fleeing.

    Forecasters say a more favorable wind forecast still calls for potentially dangerous gusts across the region.

    ___

    5:15 a.m.

    Authorities have closed a major freeway as flames from the largest and most destructive Southern California wildfire churn toward coastal and mountain communities northwest of Los Angeles.

    Calmer overnight winds Thursday helped crews protect the Ventura County resort town of Ojai (OH'-hi), where most of the 7,000 residents are under evacuation orders.

    The National Weather Service says a more favorable wind forecast still calls for potentially dangerous gusts, but ones not likely not to approach historic levels they'd feared.

    Officials closed U.S. 101 for more than a dozen miles along the coast, cutting off a major route between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties as fire charred heavy brush along lanes.

    Thousands of homes remain threatened by at least four major Southern California wildfires that have destroyed structures and sent residents fleeing.

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    A helicopter flies over a wildfire Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Bonsall, Calif. The wind-swept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes in Southern California. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Wildfire destroys mobile homes in California retirement park

    December 8, 2017
    Categories: 

    FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — A brush fire driven by gusty winds that have plagued Southern California all week exploded rapidly Thursday north of San Diego, destroying dozens of mobile homes in a retirement community and killing race horses at an elite training facility.

    The fire exceeded 6 square miles (16 square kilometers) in a matter of hours and tore through the tightly packed Rancho Monserate Country Club community in the small city of Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards and horse ranches. Three people were burned trying to escape the flames, said Capt. Nick Schuler of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    The destructive blaze broke out as firefighters tried to corral the largest fire in the state that was burning around Ventura — 130 miles (209 kilometers) to the north — and destroyed 430 buildings as it grew to 180 square miles (466 square kilometers) since Monday. Fire crews also fought large fires around Los Angeles, though they made enough progress to lift most evacuation orders.

    Like other fires that have broken out this week, Fallbrook has a history of destructive blazes. Ten years ago, as a series of similar fires raced across Southern California, a blaze in Fallbrook injured five people, destroyed 206 homes and burned 14 square miles (36 square kilometers).

    Driven by winds above 35 mph (56 kph), Thursday's fire wiped out rows of trailer homes in the retirement community and left behind charred and mangled metal where they had stood.

    The fire started from an unknown cause next to State Highway 76 and blew across six lanes to the other side. The highway was closed Thursday night.

    Evacuations were ordered in the area near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base and schools and casinos were being used as shelters.

    Jim Peratt was in Las Vegas on business when his wife called and said she was rounding up their two horses and evacuating their property in Bonsall, a community of 4,000 amid the rolling hills of rural San Diego County.

    "She saw nothing but smoke and flames all around," Peratt said. "I'm praying I'll have a home when I get back."

    As the flames approached the elite San Luis Rey Downs training facility for thoroughbreds, many of the more than 450 horses were cut loose to prevent them from being trapped in their stables if barns caught fire, said Mac McBride of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

    Horse trainer Scott Hansen said he knows that some of his 30 horses at the facility died.

    "I don't know how many are living and how many are dead," he said. "I guess I'll have to figure that out in the morning."

    Most of the horses were saved, McBride said, and were being loaded to go to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

    Some ranchers posted urgent pleas on Twitter for help moving horses, including Rawhide Ranch, well-known for running riding camps for children.

    The fire and a smaller one 12 miles (19 kilometers) north in the city of Murrieta broke out the day after state officials sent an unprecedented alert to cell phones across seven Southern California counties warning that strong Santa Ana winds could cause extreme fire danger. Although hurricane-force winds predicted did not materialize, firefighters faced gusts that fanned flames and put thousands of homes in jeopardy.

    Along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, tiny beach communities were under siege as fire leapt from steep hillsides across U.S. Highway 101.

    "We drove through a wall of flames," Wendy Frank said, describing her ordeal after evacuating her horses from Ojai on Wednesday night. "I didn't know if we'd make it. I just put the accelerator down. I know we were going over 100 mph (160 kph), we could have been going much more, and just hoped for the best."

    Fires flared up Thursday along the highway, forcing an evacuation of dozens of homes at Faria Beach.

    "Anyone in your homes still, you need to leave now," a California Highway Patrol officer said through a loudspeaker while driving down a smoke-shrouded street. "The fire is here, you need to leave."

    Joseph Ruffner had left earlier in the week but returned and said he was staying put this time.

    "This morning there was a wall of fire back right over here," he said. "I didn't think it was no big deal, but it's coming back to burn what it didn't burn yesterday."

    The highway, which runs the length of the state and is a major commuter corridor to Los Angeles, was closed intermittently along the 28-mile (45-kilometer) stretch between Ventura and Santa Barbara.

    The Ventura and LA-area fires have put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed nearly 200 homes and buildings, a figure almost certain to rise.

    A woman was found dead in a wrecked car in an evacuation zone near the city of Santa Paula, where the Ventura County blaze began Monday night, but officials could not immediately say whether the accident was fire-related.

    The massive fire threatened Ojai, a scenic mountain town dubbed "Shangri-La" and known for its boutique hotels and New Age spiritual retreats.

    Most of Ojai's 7,000 residents were warned to clear out late Wednesday and patients unable to walk were moved from the Ojai Valley Community Hospital because of unprecedented, hurricane-force Santa Ana winds in the overnight forecast.

    Ash fell like snowflakes on citrus orchards scattered around town and on Spanish-style architecture as firefighters parked their trucks around houses in anticipation of winds picking back up.

    Some businesses were closed, but staples could be found at Pat's Liquor, where Hank Cheyne-Garcia loaded up with supplies to fuel through another edgy night keeping sentry on the fire.

    "It got a little too intense yesterday with the wind kicking up," he said. "There was just so much smoke. Yesterday you couldn't see the street."

    ___

    Myers reported from Ventura. Associated Press writers Julie Watson in San Diego, Brian Skoloff in Ojai, and Brian Melley, Michael Balsamo, Robert Jablon, Chris Weber, Andrew Dalton and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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    For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires

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    Dick Marsala looks through debris from his destroyed home after a wildfire roared through the Rancho Monserate Country Club Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, in Bonsall, Calif. The wind-swept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes in Southern California. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    Fast-moving flames force people to flee on a moment's notice

    December 8, 2017
    Categories: 

    FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — Flames were practically on top of Dick and Joan Marsala's home when they got an urgent knock on the door and were told to leave.

    The couple, in their mid-80s, grabbed only a change of clothes and medications before fleeing Thursday through wind gusts and smoke as fire swallowed the row of mobile homes behind their place in the Rancho Monserate Country Club north of San Diego.

    It's a story that has played out in communities across much of Southern California this week as ferocious winds whipped sparks into massive infernos that have killed one person, destroyed nearly 700 homes and buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced hundreds of thousands of people to run from fires that have burned more than 260 square miles (673 square kilometers) since Monday.

    On Friday, the first fire-related death was confirmed by the Ventura County medical examiner's office.

    Virignia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead Wednesday night along an evacuation route near a fire northwest of Los Angeles. Her death was caused by crash injuries, smoke inhalation and burns, the medical examiner's office said in a statement.

    The flames that tore through Fallbrook, self-proclaimed "Avocado Capital of the World," and nearby Bonsall, home to a premier racehorse training facility, traveled so far that even people who found temporary refuge had to move again when the fires got too close.

    Flames sprang up so quickly and moved so fast that three people were burned Thursday trying to escape. Many of those who managed to get out unscathed did so with only the clothes on their backs after abandoning a lifetime of possessions to fate.

    The Marsalas and other unlucky homeowners returned Friday to find their homes in ruins.

    Dick Marsala was too overwhelmed to speak as he searched through the smoldering remnants in search of his wallet. It was still too hot, so he climbed back out. Peering through a broken window, he spotted a framed photo still hanging on a blackened wall. It was a picture of him golfing.

    "I'll be darned," he said, his eyes tearing up as he put on sunglasses.

    The charred gray remains of much of the 55-and-over community stood in stark contrast to the bright green nine-hole golf course where Marsala and others in the community played regularly.

    Many residents were on the course when the fire swept into the area, driven by dry desert Santa Ana winds that surpassed 35 mph (56 kph). That was too fast for firefighters to stop the flames.

    "The crews were trying to stay out ahead of this as quickly as they could," said Capt. Kendal Bortisser of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. "As we know, when a tornado hits the Midwest, there's no stopping it. When a hurricane hits the East Coast, there's no stopping it. When Santa Ana winds come in, there's no stopping them."

    Tom Metier was brushing his teeth to get ready for a doctor's appointment when sheriff's deputies pulled up and yelled, "Get out now!"

    He grabbed the key to his safety deposit box, prescription pills and some cash. Winds were howling outside, and flames leaped through the brush on a nearby hillside.

    Metier, who expected to lose everything, was surprised to find his place intact Friday. He zipped through the mobile home park in a golf cart, fielding calls from neighbors and reporting whose homes survived and whose were gone.

    More than a third of the community's 213 mobile homes burned as the fire zigzagged along a hillside, skipping some streets and razing others. On one street, all 24 mobile homes were gone, with only hulls of cars and stoves left.

    "It's really horrible to see some of these little streets look like a moonscape," he told a friend whose home was reduced to black rubble.

    The fire 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San Diego ignited for unknown reasons and destroyed at least 105 structures as it burned 6 square miles (16 square kilometers).

    Meanwhile, firefighters northwest of Los Angeles gained some control over the largest and most destructive fire in the state, which destroyed 476 homes and buildings. The blaze in Ventura County grew to 223 square miles (533 square kilometers) since igniting.

    Some of the first evacuees from the fire who had to flee on Monday were allowed to return on Friday, including everyone from the city of Santa Paula, the first city threatened by the week's fires.

    Along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, tiny communities had so far survived close calls. Slopes along U.S. 101 were blackened, but homes still stood at La Conchita and Faria Beach. Sections of Carpinteria were under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, but no flames were in sight.

    Fire crews made enough progress against other large fires around LA to lift most evacuation orders.

    The Fallbrook fire broke out along State Highway 76 and quickly jumped six lanes to the other side.

    Horse trainers took stock of the damage at the elite San Luis Rey Downs training facility for thoroughbreds in Bonsall, where many of the more than 450 horses were cut loose to prevent them from being trapped in burning stables.

    Frantic herds galloped through smoke and past flaming palm trees in a chaotic escape from a normally idyllic place.

    "We almost got trampled to death," trainer Kim Marrs said. "One gal got knocked down. I thought she was going to get crushed. You just had to stand there and pray they didn't hit you."

    Most of the loose horses were corralled and taken to Del Mar Fairgrounds, but about 25 died as barns and pasture burned.

    The fire, on the eastern border of the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton, was uncontained, although winds subsided significantly overnight. Forecasters said they would return later in the day but be less widespread.

    Authorities said 1,000 firefighters battled the flames with help from a fleet of air tankers and helicopters. Crews were also dispatched to stamp out a small new fire that began to the east in the Cleveland National Forest near the mountain town of Alpine.

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    Associated Press writers Krysta Fauria and Amanda Lee Myers in Bonsall, Brian Skoloff in Ojai, and Brian Melley, Michael Balsamo, and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

    ___

    For complete coverage of the California wildfires, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires .

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    Firefighters light backfire while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping Santa Ana Rd. near Ventura, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

    'Firefighting at Christmas' may become normal in California

    December 9, 2017
    Categories: 

    FALLBROOK, Calif. (AP) — A week of destructive fires in Southern California is ending but danger still looms.

    Well into what's considered the wet season, there's been nary a drop of rain. That's good for sun-seeking tourists, but could spell more disaster for a region that emerged this spring from a yearslong drought and now has firefighters on edge because of parched conditions and no end in sight to the typical fire season.

    "This is the new normal," Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura County fire that has caused the most destruction and continued burning out of control. "We're about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual."

    Even as firefighters made progress containing six major wildfires from Santa Barbara to San Diego County and most evacuees were allowed to return home, predicted gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) through Sunday posed a threat of flaring up existing blazes or spreading new ones. High fire risk is expected to last into January and the governor and experts said climate change is making it a year-round threat.

    Overall, the fires have destroyed nearly 800 homes and other buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced more than 200,000 people to flee flames that have burned over 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) since Monday. One death, so far, a 70-year-old woman who crashed her car on an evacuation route, is attributed to the fire in Santa Paula, a small city next to Ventura where the fire began.

    The Ventura blaze continued to burn into rugged mountains in the Los Padres National Forest near the little town of Ojai and toward a preserve established for endangered California condors. While many evacuation orders were lifted, new ones were established as the fire grew.

    Brown said he had witnessed the "vagaries of the wind" that had destroyed some houses and left others standing and expressed concern for those who lost everything.

    "What can you say?" he asked. "When you lose your house and your belongings and people lose their animals, it is a horror and it's a horror we want to minimize."

    Firefighters were on high alert for dangerous fire potential even before the first blazes broke out. On Dec. 1, they began planning for extreme winds forecast in the week ahead.

    Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said authorities were prepared for destruction on the level of 2003 and 2007 firestorms in Southern California and possibly those in Northern California that killed 44 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 homes and other buildings in October.

    By Monday, officials had brought in fire crews from the northern part of the state as reinforcements and marshaled engines, bulldozers and aircraft.

    On Tuesday they brought in more helicopters from the National Guard and "every last plane we could find in the nation," said Thom Porter, southern chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    The military provided C-130 planes for firefighting, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services. More than 290 fire engines came from Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and Nevada.

    But when flames met ferocious winds, crews were largely powerless to stop them. Even fire-attacking aircraft were helpless while being grounded at times because of night, high winds or smoke.

    As fires burned in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, firefighters from other states were already in place north of San Diego on Thursday when a major fire erupted and rapidly spread in the Fallbrook area, known for its avocado groves and horse stables in the rolling hills.

    "We had many resources in the area very quickly on this incident, but unfortunately within several minutes the fire had gotten out of control and well-established, and necessitated massive evacuations," said Steve Abbott, chief of the North County Fire Protection District.

    The fire swept through the San Luis Rey Training Facility, where it killed more than 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes — most of them in the Rancho Monserate Country Club retirement community. Three people were burned trying to escape the fire that continued to smolder Saturday.

    Most of this week's fires were in places that burned in the past, including one in the ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air that burned six homes and another in the city's rugged foothills above the community of Sylmar and in Santa Paula.

    The fire in Fallbrook was no exception. Ten years ago, during a deadly spate of Santa Ana wind-driven infernos, flames wiped out most of the more than 200 homes in the Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park.

    Memories of that blaze were fresh as flames approached Thursday and sheriff's deputies told residents to leave immediately.

    By the time he got the order to go, Mateo Gonzalez had already helped his brother move out of his nearby place and packed all of his important belongings.

    In the 2007 firestorm, Gonzalez had almost no warning before his house was destroyed, only four months after moving in.

    "We weren't prepared the first time around. This time we were," he said Saturday, the day after he returned to his undamaged home.

    ___

    Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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    UN calls for urgent evacuation of 137 sick Syrian children

    December 10, 2017

    BEIRUT (AP) — The United Nations children's agency said Sunday 137 children stranded in a rebel-held suburb near the Syrian capital require immediate evacuation amid a crippling siege in which five have reportedly died from a lack of medical care.

    The Eastern Ghouta suburb, home to 400,000 residents, has been besieged since 2013 and humanitarian conditions there have deteriorated sharply amid violence that intensified since Nov. 14. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 202 people, including 47 children, have been killed since.

    The area, the last remaining rebel-held pocket near the capital Damascus, is technically part of a "de-escalation zone" brokered by Russia earlier this year. Cease-fires brokered by Russia have largely held elsewhere in Syria but there has been little progress toward a political solution to the conflict that has claimed nearly 400,000 lives since it began in 2011.

    Syrian opposition and government delegates are currently in Geneva for a new round of U.N.-sponsored talks after a short break. The government delegation has protested the opposition's insistence on the absence of President Bashar Assad from any future transition period.

    After a few days' absence, the government delegation returned to Geneva Sunday for talks which are due to resume Monday.

    In its statement Sunday, UNICEF said its aid workers described seeing one of the worst health situations since the conflict began in 2011 during a rare international aid convoy to a neighborhood in the Eastern Ghouta district at the end of November.

    UNICEF says 137 children, aged between 7-months to 17-years, require immediate evacuation for conditions that include kidney failure, severe malnutrition and conflict wounds.

    "Children are still living through so much horror," said UNICEF Representative in Syria Fran Equiza. "The situation is getting worse day by day. The health system is crumbling and schools have now been closed for almost a month. Sick children desperately need medical evacuation, and many thousands more are being denied the chance of a normal, peaceful childhood."

    UNICEF says that nearly 12 per cent of children under 5 years-old in Eastern Ghouta suffer from acute malnutrition — the highest rate ever recorded since the start of the conflict in Syria.

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    Firefighters light backfire while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping Santa Ana Rd. near Ventura, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

    New evacuations as huge Southern California fire flares up

    December 10, 2017

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A powerful flare-up on the western edge of Southern California's largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday, as wind-fanned flames churned through old-growth brush in canyons and along hillsides toward coastal towns.

    Crews with help from a fleet water-dropping planes and helicopters saved homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze deeper into residential foothill areas northwest of Los Angeles that haven't burned in decades. New evacuations were ordered as the fire sent up an enormous plume near Montecito and Carpinteria, seaside areas in Santa Barbara County that had been under fire threat for days and were now choked with smoke.

    "The winds are kind of squirrely right now," said county fire spokesman Mike Eliason. "Some places the smoke is going straight up in the air, and others it's blowing sideways. Depends on what canyon we're in."

    The department posted a photo of one residence engulfed in flames. It's unclear whether other structures burned. Thousands of homes and businesses in the county were without power.

    The air thick with acrid smoke, even residents of areas not under evacuation orders took the opportunity to leave, fearing another shutdown of U.S. 101, a key coastal highway that was closed intermittently last week. Officials handed out masks to residents who stayed behind in Montecito, the wealthy hillside enclave that's home to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Rob Lowe.

    "Our house is under threat of being burned," Ellen DeGeneres tweeted at midday Sunday. "We just had to evacuate our pets. I'm praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters."

    A few miles to the west, Santa Barbara Zoo was closed to the public and its 500 animals confined to their night quarters all day. The zoo was just outside the evacuation area, but smoke and ash blew through the 30-acre property.

    Firefighters made significant progress Saturday on other fronts of the enormous fire that started Dec. 4 in neighboring Ventura County. As containment increased on other major blazes in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties, resources from those fires were diverted to the Santa Barbara foothills.

    Forecasters said Santa Ana winds that whipped fires across the region last week would continue in some areas at least through Monday.

    A lack of rain has officials on edge statewide because of parched conditions and no end in sight to the typical fire season.

    "This is the new normal," Gov. Jerry Brown warned Saturday after surveying damage from the deadly Ventura fire. "We're about ready to have firefighting at Christmas. This is very odd and unusual."

    High fire risk is expected to last into January and the governor and experts said climate change is making it a year-round threat.

    Overall, the fires have destroyed about 800 homes and other buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced more than 200,000 people to flee flames that have burned over 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) since Dec. 4. One death, so far, a 70-year-old woman who crashed her car on an evacuation route, is attributed to the fire in Santa Paula, a small city where the fire began.

    The Ventura County blaze also continued to burn into rugged mountains in the Los Padres National Forest near the little town of Ojai and toward a preserve established for endangered California condors.

    Ojai experienced hazardous levels of smoke at times and officials warned of unhealthy air for large swaths of the region. The South Coast Air Quality Management District urged residents to stay indoors if possible and avoid vigorous outdoor activities.

    As fires burned in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, firefighters were already in place north of San Diego on Thursday when a major fire erupted and rapidly spread in the Fallbrook area, known for its avocado groves and horse stables in the rolling hills.

    The fire swept through the San Luis Rey Training Facility, where it killed more than 40 elite thoroughbreds and destroyed more than 100 homes — most of them in a retirement community. Three people were burned trying to escape the fire that continued to smolder Sunday.

    Most of last week's fires were in places that burned in the past, including one in the ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air that burned six homes and another in the city's rugged foothills above the community of Sylmar and in Santa Paula.

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    Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in Fallbrook and Brian Melley and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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    In this grab taken from video, a tug boat tries to tow The Pride of Kent ferry, in Calais, France, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. Authorities prepared the emergency evacuation of a ferry carrying 313 people that ran aground at the French port city of Calais Sunday interrupting boat traffic across the English Channel, according to authorities. (AP)

    Ferry runs aground in Channel in high winds, all are rescued

    December 11, 2017

    PARIS (AP) — A ferry carrying 313 people ran aground Sunday amid high winds off the French port of Calais, interrupting boat traffic across the English Channel. Authorities safely evacuated those on board.

    A towing operation, aided by a rising tide, managed to unstick the ferry from a pebble bank it struck just after noon during the bad weather. Six hours later, passengers from the Dover-bound Pride of Kent started disembarking from the vessel when it was pulled to a nearby dock, authorities said.

    Authorities from France's Pas-de-Calais region said no injuries were reported.

    P&O Ferries confirmed that one of its ferries ran aground and said it hoped "to transfer our passengers to an alternative ship as soon as possible."

    The prefecture said the evacuation was completed Sunday evening and traffic had resumed between France and Britain. Some 60 people were being housed in local hotels while the others were being transported across the Channel, it said.

    Storms also knocked out electricity to 15,000 households in the Pas-de-Calais region and an adjacent region.

    The national weather warning agency Meteo France had 32 French regions under hazard alerts due to high winds and storms over the weekend.

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    Law enforcement officials work following an explosion near New York's Times Square on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Police said a man with a pipe bomb strapped to his body set off the crude device in a passageway under 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    The Latest: Subway bomb ignited by Christmas light, matches

    December 11, 2017
    Categories: 

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on an explosion in a New York City subway passageway (all times local):

    6:15 p.m.

    Law enforcement officials say a pipe bomb that exploded in a crowded New York City subway passageway was ignited with a Christmas light, matches and a nine-volt battery.

    The officials say the short pipe was packed with explosive powder but didn't work as intended. The blast wasn't powerful enough to turn the pipe into deadly shrapnel.

    Authorities have identified the attacker as Akayed Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh.

    Law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation say he had looked at Islamic State group propaganda online and told investigators he was retaliating against U.S. military aggression.

    The blast during the Monday morning rush hour injured three people besides Ullah, who's being treated at a hospital.

    The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the blast.

    —By Colleen Long and Tom Hays.

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    5:10 p.m.

    President Donald Trump says a bomb blast in Manhattan highlights the need for an immigration overhaul.

    Trump said Monday that the U.S. "must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people" into the country.

    The Republican president points to his controversial travel ban as an example of the kind of policy that needs to be put in place. And he's calling on Congress to end "chain migration," in which family members are permitted to join relatives who have immigrated.

    He also says people convicted of terror acts "deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases."

    The only person seriously wounded Monday was the suspected bomber.

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    4:45 p.m.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions says a pipe bomb explosion in New York City's subway system and an earlier attack in Manhattan highlight the nation's "failed immigration policies."

    Sessions says the Monday blast shows the need for immigration reform. Authorities say a man who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh seven years ago set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body in a subway corridor near Times Square. He was injured along with three others.

    Sessions says relatives of U.S. citizens shouldn't get priority ahead of "someone who is high-skilled, well educated, has learned English, and is likely to assimilate and flourish here."

    He says a merit-based immigration system would be safer.

    His comments are similar to those made by a White House spokeswoman.

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    3 p.m.

    A White House spokeswoman says a pipe bomb explosion in New York City's subway system shows the need for "immigration reform."

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Congress should work with the president, stressing the need to "protect our borders" and calling for a "merit-based" immigration system.

    Authorities say a man inspired by the Islamic State group set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body in a subway corridor near Times Square, injuring himself and wounding three others.

    Law enforcement officials say the man came to the U.S. from Bangladesh seven years ago with a type of preferential visa for people with relatives who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

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    2:15 p.m.

    The suspect in a pipe bomb explosion in New York City's subway system at one point had a license to drive livery cars and for-hire vehicles.

    Authorities have identified the attacker as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. The blast in an underground subway corridor during the Monday morning rush hour injured three people, as well as Ullah.

    New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission says records show he had a for-hire license from March 2012 through March 2015. It then expired and wasn't renewed. At the time, a for-hire license did not allow someone to drive one of the city's yellow taxis.

    The TLC says there are no records to indicate if he actually used the license to work as a car driver.

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    1:45 p.m.

    New York's governor says the suspect in a pipe bomb blast in New York City's subway system may have crafted the device from online instructions, and so far it doesn't appear to be part of a larger plot.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo told cable news channel NY1 that officials "have reason to believe that this person went to the internet and found out how to make a homemade bomb."

    Authorities identified the attacker as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. Monday's explosion injured him, slightly wounded three other people and sent commuters fleeing in terror through a subway corridor near Times Square.

    Cuomo says he's boosting security at high-profile spots statewide. The Democrat also suggests internet companies need to look at the access potential attackers have to what he calls "garbage and vileness" online.

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    1:10 p.m.

    Law enforcement is stepping up patrols at Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train stations after a pipe bomb went off in a crowded subway corridor in New York City.

    Boston police say that while there doesn't appear to be a specific threat to the area at this time, police are increasing their presence at major MBTA train stations.

    MBTA Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan says he contacted the Joint Terrorism Task Force and state and local law enforcement agencies in the wake of the Monday explosion.

    Sullivan says additional EDU teams— bomb detecting dogs and their handlers —will be deployed through the system.

    The crude pipe bomb strapped to a man went off in an underground passageway in the Times Square area during the morning rush hour.

    Massachusetts State Police are monitoring the investigation

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    12:40 p.m.

    Law enforcement officials say the 27-year-old man who set off a pipe bomb in the New York City subway came to the U.S. from Bangladesh seven years ago with a type of preferential visa for people with relatives who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

    The officials say Akayed Ullah was living in Brooklyn. They say he told investigators Monday he was inspired by the Islamic State group to carry out an attack, but had no direct contact with the terror group. They say he is speaking with investigators from his hospital bed. The suspect had burns on his abdomen and also to his hands

    Officials say he assembled the crude device in his apartment. Investigators are talking to witnesses and his family.

    The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the blast.

    Bangladesh has been expanding its anti-terror operations after grisly attacks killed dozens of people.

    Three others suffered minor injuries in the blast.

    —By Colleen Long and Michael Balsamo.

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    Noon

    The mayor of Paris is expressing support for New York City and those wounded in a pipe bomb explosion in an underground passageway in the Times Square area.

    Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Monday that "New York has been by our side each time we have been hit by attacks and threats, and Paris is also by the side of New York."

    Hidalgo, whose city has been hit by multiple attacks in recent years, said she was thinking of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio after Monday's blast.

    Speaking ahead of an international climate summit, she said "when something like that happens in one of our cities, we are all on alert."

    A crude pipe bomb strapped to a man inspired by the Islamic State Group went off in a crowded subway corridor, injuring the man and three others.

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    11:55 a.m.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has ordered extra security at mass transit hubs in his state following the pipe bomb explosion in a passageway near Times Square in Manhattan.

    New Jersey Transit buses have resumed normal service Monday into New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal.

    New York City also has reopened its subways amid heightened city-wide security after a man with a pipe bomb strapped to him caused an explosion in an underground passageway in the Times Square area during the morning rush hour.

    Law enforcement officials tell The Associated Press that Akayed Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State Group, but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the suspect or incident.

    The suspect had burns on his abdomen and also to his hands. Three others suffered minor injuries, including headaches and ringing in the ears.

    ___

    10:20 a.m.

    New York City has reopened its subways amid heightened city-wide security after a man with a pipe bomb strapped to him caused an explosion in an underground passageway in the Times Square area during the morning rush hour.

    Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota (LOH'-tuh) says trains on the Seventh and Eighth avenue lines were still bypassing the Times Square corridor as the investigation proceeded Monday morning. But he says overall service is back to normal.

    Law enforcement officials tell The Associated Press that Akayed Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State Group, but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the suspect or incident.

    Police say he attached the device to his body with Velcro and zip ties.

    — By Colleen Long

    ___

    10 a.m.

    New York City police say they are combing through video of the bombing in the subway system.

    They say the suspect meant to set off the bomb, but it's not clear if he meant to do so in a passageway in the Times Square area where it went off Monday during the morning rush hour.

    Twenty-seven-year-old Akayed Ullah is in police custody. Officials say he sustained burns to his abdomen and hands and cuts after the crude pipe bomb exploded.

    Law enforcement officials say Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State, but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the suspect or incident.

    — By Colleen Long

    ___

    9:55 a.m.

    Police have identified the 27-year-old man who detonated an explosive device strapped to his body in the New York City subway.

    Police say Akayed Ullah intentionally exploded the crude device in a passageway under Times Square during the morning rush hour Monday. They say he is in custody. They say the device is a crudely-made pipe bomb.

    Authorities called the incident an attempted terrorist attack. Three others suffered minor injuries, including headaches and ringing in the ears.

    The suspect had burns on his abdomen and also to his hands.

    Law enforcement officials say he was inspired by the Islamic State, but had apparently not had any direct contact with the terror group.

    ___

    9:45 a.m.

    Police Commissioner James O'Neill says the device that exploded in the New York City subway was a terror-related incident.

    A 27-year-old man had a crude pipe bomb strapped to him and it went off in a passageway from Seventh and Eighth Avenues near Times Square.

    Three people suffered minor non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect was also injured and was taken into custody.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio says the device that exploded in the New York City subway was an attempted terrorist attack. He says it's lucky the suspect didn't achieve his ultimate goals.

    Law enforcement officials say he was inspired by the Islamic State, but had apparently not had any direct contact with the terror group.

    ___

    9:40 a.m.

    A photo published by the New York Post from the scene of the Manhattan subway explosion shows a bearded man crumpled on the ground with his shirt apparently blown off and a police officer holding the man's hands behind his back.

    Soot covers the man's bare midriff.

    The Fire Department of New York says four people, including the suspect, have been hurt following the pipe bomb explosion at the height of the morning rush hour Monday.

    None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

    A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the incident.

    ___

    9:30 a.m.

    The Fire Department of New York says four people, including the suspect, have been hurt following a pipe bomb explosion in a New York City subway at the height of the morning rush hour.

    Fire officials say Monday none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

    Police say the pipe bomb explosion inside the subway happened in an underground passageway between Seventh and Eighth Avenues on 42nd Street.

    A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the incident.

    ___

    9:15 a.m.

    Police say the pipe bomb explosion inside the New York City subway happened in an underground passageway between Seventh and Eighth Avenues on 42nd Street.

    The explosion filled the passageway with smoke while it was crowded with throngs of Monday morning commuters.

    A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the incident.

    The person was arrested and has non-life-threatening injuries. Another person on the platform sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

    The Port Authority Bus Terminal, the nation's largest bus hub, was shut down, along with the eight subway lines and all streets around Times Square.

    ___

    8:45 a.m.

    A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off on a New York City subway platform.

    The explosion happened around 7:30 a.m. Monday. Details were still developing.

    The person was arrested and has non-life-threatening injuries. Another person on the platform sustained non-life-threatening injuries

    The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has tweeted that President Trump has been briefed on the explosion.

    ___

    8:40 a.m.

    New Jersey Transit buses headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal are diverting to other locations following an explosion in New York City.

    NJ Transit says buses are taking passengers to Secaucus and Hoboken. From there, they can take trains or PATH into the city.

    Trains, PATH, light rail and ferries are honoring bus tickets into New York.

    The explosion happened around 7:30 a.m. Monday. Details were still developing.

    Passengers were evacuated as a precaution from the subway line where the explosion happened, near 40th Street and Eighth Avenue.

    A person was arrested and has non-life-threatening injuries.

    ___

    8:25 a.m.

    A law enforcement official says what is believed to be an explosive device has been set off on Manhattan subway platform.

    The explosion happened around 7:30 a.m. Monday. Details were still developing.

    A person was arrested and has non-life-threatening injuries.

    There was no immediate word of any other injuries.

    The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

    Passengers were evacuated as a precaution from the subway line where the explosion happened, near 40th Street and Eighth Avenue.

    — Associated Press writer Colleen Long

    ___

    8 a.m.

    The New York Police Department says it is responding to a report of an explosion near Times Square.

    The response is centered in the area of the Port Authority bus terminal.

    It's led to delays along some of the subway lines that pass beneath the bus terminal.

    Some passengers have been evacuated as a precaution.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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    In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, with smoke obscuring the sun in the distance, a Coulson C-130 Air Tanker turns in to make a drop on a hillside near Toro Canyon Road in Carpinteria, Calif., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Ash fell like snow and heavy smoke had residents gasping for air Monday as a wildfire exploded in size, becoming the fifth largest in state history. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

    Ash falls like snow as celebrities flee California community

    December 11, 2017
    Categories: 

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ash fell like snow and heavy smoke had residents gasping for air Monday as a huge Southern California wildfire exploded in size again, becoming the fifth largest in state history and driving celebrities from a wealthy hillside enclave.

    Tens of thousands have fled their homes as flames churn through foothill towns near Santa Barbara, the latest flare-up after a week of wind-fanned wildfires throughout the region.

    With acrid smoke thick in the air, even residents not under evacuation orders were leaving, fearing another shutdown of a key coastal highway that was closed intermittently last week.

    Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles that's home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore.

    Actor Rob Lowe wore a mask as he live-streamed his family evacuating Sunday from their smoke-shrouded home.

    "Praying for the people in my area," he said to his Instagram followers. "Hope everybody's getting out safe like we are, and thanks for the prayers and thoughts. And good luck to the firefighters, we need you!"

    Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted that neighbors were helping each other and their animals get to safety.

    "I'm sending lots of love and gratitude to the fire department and sheriffs. Thank you all," she wrote.

    The blaze — known as the Thomas fire — has destroyed 683 homes, officials said. It was partially contained after burning 362 square miles (937 square kilometers) of dry brush and timber.

    Customers coming into Jeannine's American Bakery in Montecito brushed ash from their clothes and marveled at smoke so heavy that visibility was down to just a few feet.

    "There's so much ash it's unbelievable," manager Richard Sanchez said. "Everything is white. The streets are covered, cars are covered, our parking lot is covered."

    Amtrak canceled service through the city of Santa Barbara, and its nearly 200-year-old mission church was closed because of smoke and ash. Authorities issued repeated alerts about unhealthy air and warned people to stay indoors, avoid vigorous outdoor activities and not do anything to stir up ash.

    Dr. Helene Gardner, an expert in air quality at University of California, Santa Barbara, watched ash fall "like a fine snow" from her home after the school postponed final exams until January. She said her environmental sciences students got a kick from the fact that the delay was directly related to their field of study.

    Gardner warned that the air alerts should be taken seriously because of airborne particulates — "nasty buggers" that can lodge in lungs and cause respiratory problems.

    She said the levels of particulates from a wildfire can approach those seen near coal-burning plants in pollution-heavy China and are especially problematic for people exerting themselves.

    "When I look out my window and see someone bicycling I think, 'No, no, no, get off your bike and walk!'" she said.

    Forecasters initially predicted that dry winds, which spread fires throughout the region last week, would begin to lose their power Monday, but now say they'll extend further into the week.

    Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region's most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.

    "I'm not frightened yet," Carpinteria resident Roberta Lehtinen told KABC-TV. "I don't think it's going to come roaring down unless the winds kick up."

    Firefighters gained more control over other major blazes in Southern California and diverted resources to the Santa Barbara foothills to combat the enormous fire that started Dec. 4.

    Fires are not typical in Southern California this time of year but can break out when dry vegetation and too little rain combine with the winds. Though the state emerged this spring from a yearslong drought, hardly any measurable rain has fallen in the region over the past six months.

    High fire risk is expected to last into January.

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    John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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