Southern California fire forces over 600 homes to evacuate - Quincy Newspapers, Inc. - Print, Broadcast, Interactive

Southern California fire forces over 600 homes to evacuate

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SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) -- Ferocious winds in Southern California whipped up an explosive wildfire, which forced more than 600 homes to evacuate.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out Monday east of Santa Paula, which is about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The flames reached nearly 8 square miles just hours later.

Authorities say Ventura, a city of some 850,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire soon.

Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated.

The National Weather Service says winds of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area and are expected to continue.

Sheriff's officials say two structures have burned so far. It wasn't clear what they were.