Thomas Fire Burns Near Santa Paula — LIVE STREAM

Brush rig

A San Diego Fire Rescue Department brush rig. Courtesy of the department

Ventura County fire officials say the blaze burned 500 acres Monday near Santa Paula, a city of 30,000 people.

Los Angeles County firefighters will send a strike team to the Malibu area Monday morning, putting five fire engines and about 25 firefighters into the heart of the fire-prone Santa Monica Mountains.

Southern California is in for days of critical fire weather conditions due to predicted dry and gusty Santa Ana winds.

The 390 students at Thomas Aquinas College were evacuated as a precaution, the school said on Twitter.

The fire was stoked by wind gusts of up to 70 mph (115 kph) that were expected to remain in the area along with low humidity through the week, the National Weather Service forecast. Fire weather officials caution that any fires that spark will have the ability to grow very rapidly and exhibit other kinds of extreme fire behavior, such as fire whirls or 'tornadoes' and erratic spreading.

The brush fire, which is called the Thomas Fire, was first reported in Steckel Park, which is just north of Santa Paula.

There were two evacuation shelters available to residents who were displaced.

Dumas tells the Times that holiday decorations could pose an additional fire threat.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 150 in both directions as firefighters battled the blaze, NBC LA reported.

The fire is believed to be the cause of a massive power outage in Santa Barbara, according to unverified reports on social media.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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