Wildfires Sweep L.A. Suburbs A wildfire is tearing through the foothills north of Los Angeles. Wind gusts of near-hurricane force are fueling the blaze in the suburbs of Sylmar and Porter Ranch. Dozens of homes have burned, thousands have evacuated the area, and power lines are threatened.

Wildfires Sweep L.A. Suburbs

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NPR's Carrie Kahn joins us now with the latest. Good morning, Carrie.

CARRIE KAHN: Good morning, Lynn.

NEARY: Carrie, what is the situation? Describe the situation for us now.

KAHN: These winds are terrible. These are the dreaded Santa Ana winds that come at this time. They're hot. They're dry. And the firefighters, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City, are trying to fight this fast-moving fire, which has already burned more than four square miles. It's jumped two freeways, shut down traffic in this very congested area, out there in the northwest. It's a critical situation right now.

NEARY: Now at that news conference, the mayor said the power lines are threatened.

KAHN: That is a big development, and a very scary development. He is urging and his was pleading with citizens to conserve energy today. These are huge power lines that come from the central valley over the mountain paths and drop down into the valleys of - into Los Angeles and bring a large amount of power into the city. He said if there is damage to these lines then there will be rolling blackouts throughout Los Angeles. So it is a very critical situation right now.

NEARY: And drought conditions are making things even worse?

KAHN: There is a fire still burning out in Santa Barbara that we covered extensively yesterday. Some of those aircraft can dip into the ocean but they've also been dipping into the reservoir out there in Santa Barbara, and again, city officials were pleading with people to conserve water because they are running dry.

NEARY: Now as I understand, some 5,000 people have been evacuated already. Where are they going? Where are they being taken care of?

KAHN: There are high schools that are being opened. The Red Cross opened three shelters. People are flooding into their shelters. There was a terrible situation in a local hospital that the fire burned on the edge of the campus, and that was about after midnight. This is in the dark, and it caused an electricity outage. And so they had to evacuate people from the emergency room. They were taking ambulances to other hospitals. They had 10 neonatal babies that were rushed out to another hospital. It was a very terrible situation: in the dark and late at night, in those terrible winds and horrible breathing conditions out there, too.

NEARY: And of course, all of this is taking place as California's facing pretty severe financial problems also.

KAHN: We have, but the governor has insisted that no cost will be spared in fighting these fires. He's made that very clear.

NEARY: All right. NPR's Carrie Kahn. Thanks so much, Carrie.

KAHN: You're welcome.

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