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Firefighters are battling a huge wildfire in southern California that has already burned almost 10,000 acres and forced the evacuation of thousands in the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura.

Still, the fire authority was able to send a five-engine strike team with 22 firefighters and several helicopters to Ventura's Thomas Fire, which started Monday evening near Santa Paula and grew rapidly overnight.

Photo Downtown Santa Paula, Calif., was darkened by a power outage Tuesday morning, as smoke from the Thomas Fire rose in the distance. It reached the northern edge of Ventura, a city with a population of more than 100,000, by 2 a.m. "Really mother nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out because it is pushing hard".

"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen was quoted by ABC News as saying.

Firefighters from the Alameda County Fire Department are on their way to Southern California to help crews battle a vicious, fast-moving wildfire.


"The fire is still out of control and structures continue to be threatened throughout the fire area", county emergency officials said in statement.

The National Weather Service said winds of 43 miles per hour with gusts over 60 miles per hour were reported in the area and were expected to continue.

Adding to the difficulty of fighting this fire, the National Weather Service predicts continued high winds and low humidity throughout the week.

Power company Southern California Edison tweeted that about 180,000 households were blacked out in and around Ventura County, with another 83,000 without power further north in Santa Barbara County, with no estimate of when service could be restored.


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