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'Not Knowing if My Family Is Okay': Unprecedented 'Extreme Red Flag Warning' Winds Whip Fears and Fires Across CA

10-31-2019
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The Hurricane-force winds that have been slamming California are like gasoline being poured on the flames as firefighters battle historic statewide wildfires.

The flames south of Los Angeles are fueled by the strongest winds to hit the area in more than 10 years, prompting the National Weather Service to issue an unprecedented "extreme red flag warning."

The 70-mile-per-hour gusts blew through Simi Valley as what is known as the "Easy Fire" came within 30 yards of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. 

A dozen people sheltered in place inside the library as flames traveled quickly up the hills.

President Reagan and his wife Nancy are buried on the grounds. A library employee shared what was spared inside.

"Every speech Ronald Reagan ever gave, every handwritten note, every memo, every photograph ever taken of him," explained Melissa Giller. "There's so many priceless items within our walls. I couldn't even name them all."

Firefighters fought to save the library, which was not damaged, but it was a low-tech preventive measure that played a huge role.

USA Today reports that every spring, the Ventura County Fire Department brings hundreds of goats to eat the brush around the library's perimeter, creating a dead zone or fire break.

The winds are so strong they even blew over big rigs. The conditions make it extremely tough for embattled firefighters who work tirelessly to protect thousands of houses in danger.

Some firefighters are working 26-hour shifts and have not been home since the weekend. Homeowners even tried to help, using buckets and hoses against the flames.

A wildfire in Riverside County forced dozens of people in wheelchairs to evacuate from a nursing home, surrounded by thick smoke.

And horses threatened by the flames also needed to be taken to safety.

On top of this, there are new concerns about other fires burning in California. The largest is the "Kincade Fire" in Sonoma County. It has now destroyed more than 76,000 acres and more than 130 homes.

"Not knowing if my family is okay, and are things going to burn down, and being evacuated," a tearful evacuee said, expressing concerns. "Not having water or electricity."

"It's been rough. I've got an 11-month-old baby right now. It's just really tough out here," another evacuee shared.

Santa Ana winds are expected to linger for one more day Thursday, after driving more than a dozen wildfires.

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