We're starting in the U.S. state of California. Officials there don't know yet what started a new surge of wildfires. But they're spreading extremely fast and one of them, in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, is almost three times larger than the worst fire we reported on in October.
It's known as the Thomas Fire. At one point, it was scorching an acre every second. And as of last night, it was only 5 percent contained, which means most of this fire was burning wherever it could without boundaries.
Throughout southern California, 110,000 people have had to leave their homes, hundreds of schools have been closed, 5,000 firefighters are involved in the fight and witnesses have described affected areas as looking like a warzone.
There are several factors making these blazes worse. For one thing, the summer heat dried out a lot of the region's vegetation, which is like fire fuel. Humidity in the area is a very low 7 percent. It's usually between 20 percent and 30 percent.
And then there's the Santa Ana winds. They usually blow in from the desert this time of year. They're not usually this powerful, blasting gusts of dry, 80 mile per hour winds across higher elevations.
A state spokesman says the Santa Ana winds can push a fire the length of a football field in a minute and they've been so strong that planes which could normally drop thousands of gallons of fire retardant have had to stay on the ground.
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