Just when California thought its fire season had ended, a dry, windy weather pattern whipped through Southern California in recent days, fanning a massive firestorm that threatens to consume large swaths of Ventura, one of the country’s finest surf towns.

Similar to the fires that devastated the Northern California communities of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Napa earlier this fall, the Thomas Fire in Ventura began in the evening on Monday, and by the morning, tens of thousands of acres has been charred, with thousands of people evacuated on short notice.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 45,000 acres had been burned, with no containment yet in sight. Mandatory evacuations extend from the hills north of Ventura to Highway 101, which runs along some of the best surf in the state. Reports are that, as of 10:00 AM, the fire had crept to within a quarter of a mile of Ventura City Hall. With winds blowing hard offshore, the fire is poised to move from the hills toward the sea at a frightening rate.

Ventura-based surfers are posting shocking photos on Instagram:

We’ll post updates as they are available. Stay safe, Ventura friends.

[Featured Image by Kyle MacLennan]