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Schools Close Early Due to Smoke & Ash from #ThomasFire, #CreekFire. #SMMUSD

Eerie haze settles over Santa Monica Bay Area on Tuesday Morning


December 6, 2017

Santa Monica Pier obscured by smoke from Ventura County's Thomas Fire. View from Palisades park, about a mile north of the Pier. 12/5/17

Santa Monica residents awoke Tuesday morning to the smell of smoke. A reddish haze covered the rising sun. 31,000 acres are on fire in Ventura County, 30 miles away as the crow flies, and the smoke was settling on the bayside city of 100,000 residents. Wind blew the smoke south and east, it seems.

SMMUSD schools declared a half day. The press release from the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District is below.

Ash was falling and the smoke had the appearance of fog.

"The #CreekFire #wildfire which began outside the City of #LosAngeles, is now threatening portions of #Sylmar and #LakeviewTerrace with evacuations now being coordinated by #LAPD," tweeted the LA Fire Department at 6:30 am.

"SoCal Edison power outages b/c of #Thomasfire were reported on Twitter in Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Paula, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Camarillo and elsewhere. VC Fire says power outages could last days. Solely focusing on protecting life/property. Firefight just too dangerous" to repair power lines, said one source on Twitter (Carina Corral).

Two wind-fueled wildfires north and west of Los Angeles have caused at least one death, forced the evacuations of thousands of people and triggered widespread power outages, officials said on Tuesday.

An overnight fire, known as the Creek Fire, consumed at least 2,500 acres in the foothills of Angeles National Forest north, forcing residents of some nearby San Fernando Valley communities north of Los Angeles to flee, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

Separately, some 27,000 people in Ventura County, about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, were told to leave as a 31,000-acre wildfire, known as the Thomas Fire, burned dry brush after erupting on Monday evening, Ventura County officials said on Twitter.

Officials said the Thomas Fire destroyed at least 150 buildings. It began in a canyon near Santa Paula, about 65 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. By 4 a.m. Pacific time, the fire had advanced into the city limits of Ventura, with a population of more than 100,000, emergency officials said.

"The fire is still out of control and structures continue to be threatened throughout the fire area," officials said in a predawn update. "Due to the intensity of the fire, crews are having trouble making access and there are multiple reports of structures on fire."

Another fire, this one dubbed the Creek Fire, was also spreading north of downtown Los Angeles, this one stretching across 500 acres.

As the Thomas Fire spread, the Ventura County Fire Department issued a dire warning early Tuesday, saying conditions were expected to worsen. "Incident commander reporting winds are increasing, expect fire behavior to increase over the entire incident," a department spokesperson tweeted.

While Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at an overnight news conference that one person was killed in a car crash while trying to evacuate, authorities said early Tuesday that no people had been confirmed dead. (Local reports said the overnight fatality was believed to have been a dog rather than a person. A fire department spokesman did not immediately respond to the Washington Post's request for comment.)

Update from SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati:

"We understand that some homes, apartments and school indoor spaces are feeling the impact of the smoke and that there are extreme winds in some of our neighborhoods.

Eerie smoke covered the Santa Monica Bay Area.

We are calling a minimum day today, due to these conditions, however, students may remain on campus for the regular school day if parents / guardians are unable to pick up their students. Students will be supervised during the regular school day.

Please check with your school site / website for the minimum day bell schedule. Parents may make the personal decision to pick up students, earlier, at their discretion. Students who leave will be counted as an approved absence. Please sign out your child through the school office.

We are working with our after school partners to determine status of after school programs in Malibu and Santa Monica and will have additional information soon.

We are awaiting an advisory from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on further direction."


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