By Oliver Milman
The exhausted firefighters battling fires that have menaced Los Angeles wouldn’t normally expect to be dealing with such ferocious conflagrations with Christmas just a few weeks away.
But a combination of short and longer-term events have conspired to spark a ring of fires that have dotted the LA region, spearheaded by the 96,000-acre Thomas fire that looms over the city of Ventura.
More than 200,000 people in the potential path of fire have been told to evacuate, with more than 300 homes and other buildings already destroyed, hundreds of schools shut down and the 101 freeway closed off. The singer Lionel Ritchie had to cancel a concert to help family members flee the flames. Plumes of smoke have extended more than 1,000 miles into the Pacific.
So why are such unusually strong fires plaguing southern California?