Newswise — Two counties in southern California are in a state of emergency; Cal Fire estimates that the largest blaze, the Thomas fire in Ventura County, has burned through 65,500 acres and prompted officials to put approximately 50,000 people under a mandatory evacuation. The Rye and Creek fires in Los Angeles County have scorched at least 16,000 acres combined, and prompted around 150,000 evacuations. As heavy winds continue to fuel and spread the flames, officials have advised many area residents to ready themselves for evacuation when ordered.

Thomas Cova, University of Utah, professor of geography at the University of Utah, researches wildfire warnings and evacuations, as typified by the 2017 California Wine County fires. He is available to provide insight into how officials make decisions about evacuations with regard to wildfires.