Severe hot and dry “devil winds” kicked up on Sunday in fire ravaged Southern California and more winds were expected in the north, fanning the flames of wild fires that have killed at least 25 people, officials said.
“This is getting bad,” said meteorologist Marc Chenard, with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
“We’ll get sustained winds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) and gusts between 60 mph (95 km/h) and 70 mph (112 km/h),” he said early Sunday of the Santa Ana “devil wind” hitting the Los Angeles area where the Woolsey Fire has been burning since Thursday in the tinder-dry canyon of Ventura County and claimed at least two lives.
The air-masses blowing across the western US deserts including Death Valley toward the coast are expected to bring the sustained high winds at least through Tuesday, he said.
“It’s nothing but bad news,” said Chenard.
Additional 40 mph (64 km/h) winds will blow across the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California near Sacramento where the so-called Camp Fire has claimed at least 23 lives.
An additional 35 people have been reported missing and three firefighters have been injured. It was not immediately clear if any of the missing were among those found dead.
The Camp Fire burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in Paradise, more structures than any other California wildfire on record, and the death toll, which could rise, also makes it one of the deadliest.
Only the Griffith Park Fire in 1933 and Tunnel Fire in 1991 have claimed more lives.