Wildfire spreads in Southern California

The fire, named the Thomas Fire, began in a canyon north of the city of Santa Paula, about 65 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Most of the evacuated homes were in that city. Authorities initially reported one death, but then retracted that, saying a dead dog but no person was found in an overturned auto.

"The fire is pushing quickly towards the city of Ventura", Lorenzen said, and has reached the eastern city limits.

"This will likely be the strongest and longest duration santa ana wind event we have seen so far this season", the weather service said.

Two buildings have been destroyed and thousands of homes are without power, according to reports. Thomas Aquinas College, which about 350 students attend, has also been evacuated.

"We've been here nearly 30 years we've gone through floods, gone through fires, it's just the wind, you don't know where it's going to go", added Chula Casas.

More news: LaVar Ball: Withdrawing suspended son to prepare for National Basketball Association

Firefighters work to put out a blaze engulfing homes in Ventura.

The Southern California Edison utility company said 180,000 customers in Ventura County and 83,000 in Santa Barbara County were without power.

A mixture of dry foliage from a sustained drought, low humidity and sustained winds of more than 30 miles per hour throughout the evening led to its explosive growth, according to Buschow. Tonight's gusts should be around 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Winds exceeding 40mph and gusts of more than 60mph have been reported in the area and were expected to continue, the National Weather Service said.

Several hashtags about the fire, including #ThomasFire, #Ventura and #Santa Paula, were trending on Twitter early Tuesday morning, as people shared striking photos of the fast-moving blaze.

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