Surge in California fire brings new evacuations

Motorists on Highway 101 watch flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of 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)

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) –  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 on Tuesday 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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