Strong Winds Boost California Wildfire

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Thousands of people have fled their homes in Southern California and many homes have already been destroyed in the Santa Barbara area as strong winds have pushed a fierce wildfire closer to populated areas.

Alex and Darby Feldman are rummaging through the charred remains of their home.

"I found a piggy bank," she said. "But besides that there's really, I don't think there's anything useful here, no."

Dozens of Homes Destroyed

The Feldmans are two of dozens of residents left homeless by a wildfire raging out of control. It is a stark contrast to the usual picturesque coastal city.

Eighteen-thousand residents have evacuated their homes. 12,000 more are standing by, ready to leave at a moments notice.

What began as a brush fire was flamed by 70 miles per hour winds Thursday, transforming the blaze into what one fire official described as a blowtorch.

Firefighters Injured

Ten firefighters have been injured. Three suffered burns from heat radiation while taking refuge inside a house during a firestorm.

"We know a structure doesn't ignite right away," explained Ventura Co. Fire Department Chief Bob Roper. "It takes considerable amount of heat, which gives the firefighter or the public inside it time to have refuge."

"It could have been three more seconds when the injuries these gentlemen sustained could have been much more lethal," said Dr. Peter Grossman.

Lynelle Paulick and her husband understand what the men were dealing with. As their neighbors fled, the Paulicks stayed behind to protect their home.

"We just hunkered down and how it felt, there were these walls of what looked like 300-foot flames right in front of the house," she said.

"It's Just Stuff" 

Even families like the Felman's who have lost everything are thankful the fire didn't claim more.

"It's just stuff," Feldman said. "Our family's safe. The animals are safe."

As firefighters face extreme conditions to contain the fire, thousands of residents pray their homes don't become fuel.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.