The Santa Ana wildfire threat index, which measures the potential for the winds to spread fire, ranked the threat level at high or extreme on Thursday from just south of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border.
A woman was found dead in a wrecked vehicle 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 other fires, which broke out on Monday and Tuesday, have reached into the wealthy enclave of Bel-Air on the west side of Los Angeles.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, said in a statement at a news conference that, "These are days that break your heart". The winds create the seasonally dry conditions that these fires thrive on.
More than 4,500 firefighters have been working to stem the fire.
California Fire Department (Cal Fire) officials said dry, windy conditions were expected to continue into the weekend and warned residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Besides Bel Air, affluent Los Angeles neighborhoods between Mulholland Drive to the north and Sunset Boulevard to the south were part of the evacuation zone. Gusts of more than 40 miles per hour in the fire areas were picking up embers from the burning fields and structures, sending them wafting downwind where they set additional homes on fire.
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Immediately, she said, they packed their cars with clothes and with family mementos like her sons' bar mitzvah videos, grabbed the family dog, Georgie, and a few other items they had accumulated in the 20 years they lived there.
"You must evacuate your homes right now", an officer said over the loudspeaker.
"They gave us about 30 minutes to evacuate, so I just took my clothes", said Monica Campo, 27, who lives in the Sylmar area. "So we're very, very proud of that new technology". "So it pushes air out of the building rather than allowing air filled with smoke and ash to come in". "I need to protect this tree", she said.
Cal Fire chief Ken Pimlott said the strong winds were compounding the difficulty of fighting the fires. In the wake of that blaze brush clearing was required and water pressure was increased, he said. "These will be winds that there will no ability to fight fires".
Red-flag parking restrictions will be lifted at 8 a.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service says a more favorable wind forecast still calls for potentially risky gusts, but ones not likely not to approach historic levels they'd feared. The California Department of Transportation is providing an updated map that shows the locations of the areas affected by the fire. Fire officials said a firefighter was injured when the bulldozer he was operating overturned in an attempt to try to cut fire lines on the steep hillsides.