Terrifying footage shows California drivers commuting mid-wildfire

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On Thursday, wildfires raged in densely populated Southern California for a fourth day with a new blaze north of San Diego exploding in size in just a few hours and unsafe conditions forecast until Sunday.

Where there was no fire, there was fear.

The fire fight improved as winds calmed, allowing officials to do battle in the air and on the ground when the fire was moving slower.

The head of the state Forestry and Fire Protection department said Wednesday that a color-coded danger scale had reached the unprecedented level of purple. And when the winds come down the mountains, they dry out even more. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles's Bel-Air neighborhood.

The Skirball fire - near a cultural center of the same name and captured in apocalyptic images - also prompted authorities to close the 405 Freeway, a major commuting corridor famous for its traffic congestion.

At the Ventura County Fairgrounds, over 100 fire trucks from several states had parked on Thursday, firefighters standing or sitting outside their trucks. Fears that Edison could be blamed for this week's fires drove shares of its parent company, Edison International, down 13 percent Monday.

"This breeze is nothing", said Shane Nollsch, who had traveled from Lyon County, Nevada, arriving at 3 a.m. Wednesday to help fight the blaze.

"The thing that stopped that fire was the wind died down", Terrazas said.

"Very strong winds" blowing from the northeast to the southwest were causing the fire to balloon, he said, warning Angelenos to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.

La Conchita, a tiny town hard against Highway 101, was threatened by flames early Thursday. Meanwhile, blazes from the Sylmar fire, Santa Clarita fire and San Bernardino fire have also had devastating effects. One elementary school was also evacuated, Butler said.

Sustained winds were gusting to 66 miles per hour at Boney Mountain in Ventura County, according to the National Weather Service.

Santa Barbara County began urging evacuations due to the Thomas Fire, ordering hundreds of people to leave Carpinteria, which is nestled along the Pacific Ocean between the larger cities of Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The map above from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group shows as red dots the new burn areas in the Thomas, Rye, Creek and Skirball fires.