A former Riverina woman living in Los Angeles says hellish bushfires have forced people to stay home as the air fills with smoke.
Alanah Lucantonio, a special effects artist who moved from Griffith to Hollywood almost three years ago, said firefighters were now battling the blaze on four fronts.
“It’s like the whole state is burning up… it’s wild,” Ms Lucantonio said. “Near my area everything looks like hell, everything is on fire, it’s crazy. All the schools have closed, they had to shut down the 405 (freeway) because all the flames are spilling over.”
Officials had warned of more danger to come, with the threat level exceeding the maximum “red’ level and was at “purple” for the first time ever. The fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties have so far forced tens of thousands to escape, destroying hundreds of structures and emptying homes, hospitals, schools and multimillion-dollar mansions alike.
In Ventura, the “Thomas Fire” burned across 90,000 acres by Wednesday night, spreading through an area half the size of Canberra. Officials there said they had evacuated more than 50,000 people from 15,000 homes, before issuing even more orders to flee.
However, Ms Lucantonio said the greater threat to the people of Los Angeles was air pollution, which combined with the regular smog was posing a public health risk.
“They’re pretty much telling everybody if you don’t have to go outside then don’t,” Ms Lucantonio said.
“I’m pretty much confined to my apartment, people just go out to get supplies but some are still going to work.”
The response to the fires was largely similar to the way the Rural Fire Service dealt with emergencies, Ms Lucantonio said, but after four days living under the threat of the flame exhaustion was setting in.
“The problem is that Ventura County is so windy that embers get picked up and start new fires,” she said. “They keep hoping to get it under control but now everyone is pretty tired.”