High winds and hundred-degree weather have proved a dangerous combination in Southern California, leading the Santa Barbara fire spread at a rapid pace through the night and into Friday. The flames have consumed over 3,500 acres, putting approximately 3,500 homes and 100 businesses in jeopardy, reports Reuters:
As of Friday morning, more than 30,000 area residents were ordered to leave their homes and about 23,000 others were warned to be ready to flee at a moment's notice, county officials said. That amounts to over half of the population of Santa Barbara, located 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Los Angeles.
"Literally, last night, all hell broke loose," city Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio told reporters. "We saw the fire spread laterally across the top of the city and the fire front extend to almost 5 miles (8 km) now."
An estimated 75 homes have been destroyed since the fire began on Tuesday and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency. There have been no reported civilian casualties, though 11 firefighters have been injured.
The high winds and billowing smoke has created an otherworldly atmosphere throughout the greater Santa Barbara area, leading a number of readers to send The Huffington Post their photos.
Paul Lynch, a Santa Barbara resident, has sent The Huffington Post photos from the hot zone. Thank you Paul. If you live near the fire area and have photos of the flames, email us at email@example.com. Include your name and location in the subject line and a caption for each picture in the body of your email. And, of course, keep safe.