Unprecedented High for California Wind, Fire Danger

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2015 file photo, CalFire firefighter Bo Santiago lights a backfire as the Rocky fire burns near Clearlake, Calif. A new study by the Public Policy Institute of California says dying wildlife, bigger wildfires and drying-up farm towns will be the biggest crises if California's four-year drought continues. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson, File)

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) – Southern California has felt yellow wind, orange wind, and red wind. But never purple wind. Until now.

The color-coded system showing the expected strength of the wild winds driving the region’s fierce wildfires has reached uncharted territory. It has pushed past red, which means “high,” into purple, which means “extreme.”

State fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday that purple has never been used before.

He says that means winds could blow at an astonishing 80 mph, a speed reaching hurricane strength.

The three major wildfires burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have already put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed nearly 200 homes and buildings.

Officials fearing things could get far worse issued a rare wind warning late Tuesday night to millions of cellphones from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

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