SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (WPRI) — A former Rhode Islander living in California is hoping a massive wildfire that started roughly 20 minutes away from her home will keep its distance.
Cranston native Sarah Bliss has been living in California for about a year.
Since the wildfire broke out last week, she said walking outside is like trying to breathe two feet above a campfire.
The Tick Fire has already burned more than 4,000 acres of land north of Los Angeles – being fueled by winds of up to 50 mph.
Bliss said she’s noticed the fire has been moving closer and closer to where she lives.
“I was doing errands and then all of a sudden, I just saw smoke in the air and then there was a bunch of traffic,” Bliss recalled. “I didn’t even know there was a fire at first.”
Los Angeles Fire Chief Daryl Osby said the fire is only 5% contained and 600 firefighters are currently deployed.
“We have over 15,000 structures throughout the footprint of this fire that are threatened, with over 40,000 people that are evacuated,” Osby said.
Bliss said she has family nearby she can stay with if she is evacuated, but others don’t’ and some end up seeking shelter at the mall where she works.
“There are people who have their entire family and just bags and dogs and even their cats in like little carriers,” she said.
The California Office of Emergency Services has been warning Californians to be prepared with supplies in case they are forced to leave their homes.
“You don’t realize it until you’re actually in it and you’re seeing it,” Bliss said. “It’s actually really crazy to see.”