Publication Date December 7, 2017

4 fires that burned 120,000 acres of California are about to get more dangerous

United States
The Thomas Fire burns behind houses in Ojai, California, December 7, 2017. Photo: Kyle Grillot, AFP/Getty Images

Four gargantuan fires are now burning around Los Angeles, and firefighters are bracing for hurricane-force winds Thursday that will more rapidly spread the flames, putting even more homes and lives at risk.

The blazes had already incinerated almost 120,000 acres as of Thursday morning, leaving behind scorched hillsides and smoke-shrouded highways in the state’s worst fire season ever.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Tuesday after the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported four uncontained fires across Ventura County, home to 850,000, and Los Angeles County, with more than 10 million residents.

Wind speeds as high as 80 mph — in the range of a Category 1 hurricane — are expected today, according to forecasters.

"The forecast for [Thursday] is purple," Ken Pimlott, director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told NPR. "We've never used purple before."