Firefighters Battling 'Hurricane-Force' Winds in Creek Fire

Firefighters Battling 'Hurricane-Force' Winds in Creek Fire

As of 8 a.m. today, the fire had destroyed 33 homes and 32 outbuildings, damaged another 28 homes and 19 outbuildings and scorched 15,323 acres, Cal Fire reported. It is 10 percent contained. The cause remains under investigation, according to Cal Fire.

The largest, named the Thomas Fire, has covered some 90,000 acres.

"We are in the beginning of a protracted wind event", Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the Los Angeles Times. The Lilac Fire, burning near the town of Bonsall north of San Diego, has destroyed 65 structures.

The fire also forced a mass evacuation of large animals, primarily horses but also others such as alpacas.

An estimated 2,500 structures were threatened by the Creek Fire at one point, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was fighting the blaze in a unified command with the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

Numerous animals were being housed at Pierce College and the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, which were at capacity Wednesday afternoon and not accepting additional animals. Animal Control officers were able to rescue several horses and a puppy, but could not immediately enter the barn due to the flames. They called owners of the dead horses to inform them of the news after returning to the property, according to the Times.

The Getty Museum, which is also at risk, said it would remain closed on Thursday.

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The Creek fire, which burned homes in the hills above Sylmar, was now 80% contained.

"Obviously, this is a fire that is burning much less intensely", Garcetti said this afternoon, while warning that conditions remain unpredictable with strong winds expected through the weekend.

Santa Ana winds continued to hamper the firefighting effort, but lesser gusts allowed firefighters to make progress containing the blaze. The family that built the ranch more than 20 years ago was forced to flee the property when a fire crew arrived the morning of December 5.

Terrazas reminded residents in various hillside areas that red-flag parking restrictions remain in effect.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said they're trying to "stop this fire before it becomes something bigger" like the Bel Air fire of 1961.

ABC 7 reported 350 firefighters from 52 engine companies were stationed at the scene, supported by helicopters making water drops and six fixed-wing aircrafts.

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