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Wildfire Spreads In Southern California


Two wildfires are spreading quickly across different parts of California. In the southern part of the state, fire is moving across Ventura County, the same county where 12 people died in a mass shooting on Wednesday night. A mandatory evacuation order is now in effect in all of Malibu. Lance Orozco is the news director for our member station KCLU, and he joins me now on the line.

Lance, it's my understanding that the mandatory evacuation was initially announced for some parts of Malibu, and then I understand the fire jumped the highway. What happened?

LANCE OROZCO, BYLINE: Yeah. Well, the fire jumped the highway outside of Thousand Oaks, which is about eight miles away from Malibu. There's some mountains in between. But, right now, the fire is headed towards Malibu through that mountain range. We've got about 75,000 people even before the Malibu evacuation. But people in Ventura County, which is on the other side of the mountains - they've already been under evacuation orders, and a lot of those people have been sleeping in their cars or shelters or have been displaced for about the last 12 hours.

MARTIN: Where are you now, and what are you seeing?

OROZCO: I'm in Westlake Village, which is next to Thousand Oaks. And that - of course, that's the place that people around the country unfortunately are familiar with because of the shooting that we had earlier this week.

MARTIN: Right.

OROZCO: But there's smoke everywhere. I mean, the sun is just like this little blob with kind of a ring around it because of all the smoke. It's very windy. And I'm sort of surrounded by people who are still trying to catch some sleep in their vehicles.

MARTIN: Have you been able to talk to any of them just about what they have seen or how they left, what they took?

OROZCO: A lot of the people here didn't take a lot because it happened pretty quick. I mean, the fire is not even 24 hours old yet. And so - and a lot of people are still sort of shell-shocked over the shooting. And, to have this happen, I think a lot of people thought, well, the fire isn't going to, you know, affect us. But the problem was it got so windy last night that the fire moved very, very quickly. All of a sudden, people found themselves displaced.

MARTIN: Have you been able to hear anything - talk with officials there about whether or not they can contain this?

OROZCO: Well, last night, they met with reporters to tell us that they were concerned about what could happen overnight. The weather forecast was not good. It looked like it was going to be very windy. And they said, if that happens, things could be rough. And it's exactly what happened. The good news is it's daylight. They're starting to use big air tankers in the fire. And they're hoping to cut it off at the pass before it actually gets to Malibu.

MARTIN: Lastly, do we know anything about anyone who's been hurt? Any fatalities in this...

OROZCO: You know what? If there is a bit of good news, so far, we've had no reports of even any serious injuries. That's the good news. The bad news is we know that we've lost at least three dozen homes, probably more. They're still trying to figure out exactly what's been destroyed.

MARTIN: All right. Lance Orozco is the news director for member station KCLU reporting on this rapidly spreading fire - wildfire in Southern California in Ventura County.

Thanks so much, Lance. We appreciate it.

OROZCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.