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Oct-23-2007 12:53printcomments

Thick Smoke North of LA Deceives Radar

Southern CA Wildfires Rival Severity of October 2003 Fires Winds and Fire Danger.

NASA shot of California fires
Courtesy: NASA

(LOS ANGELES) - More than a dozen wildfires continue today in seven Southern California counties, prompting the evacuations of hundreds of thousands of people.

More than 240,000 acres, or 375 square miles, have been burned by the wildfires fueled by strong Santa Ana winds.

According to West Coast Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark, this situation rivals in severity the fires of October 2003.

While winds will be gradually diminishing during the next 24 to 48 hours, very warm air and low humidity will continue through the next few days.

While winds were not quite as strong on Monday as on Sunday, there were still numerous reports of gusts near hurricane force, or over 74mph sustained winds. Today the winds continue.

Recorded winds
* Laguna Peak: 96 mph
* Camp Nine: 86 mph
* Warm Springs: 76 mph
* Wiley Ridge: 76 mph
* Newhall Pass: 72 mph
* Ontario: 66 mph

The largest of the wildfires is the Buckweed Fire, north of Los Angeles. This blaze has burned 27,500 acres and forced the evacuation of 15,000 residents from Santa Clarita and neighboring towns.

Thousands of structures are threatened by this fire, including the Magic Mountain amusement park. Smoke from the fires is so thick it could be seen from space and weather radars mistook it for rain clouds.

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