An unrelenting wildfire fanned by hot, dry winds threatened more than 12,000 homes in and around Ventura, California, yesterday, forcing thousands of people to race for safety. The fire, dubbed the Thomas Fire, raged in the foothills above and in the city of Ventura some 80km north-west of Los Angeles, fire officials said late on Tuesday, a day after it began. It had charred more than 20,230ha of land, they said. The fire, which was zero per cent contained, was being whipped by unpredictable Santa Ana winds, which blow in from the California desert. Wind gusts were forecast to top out at 115kmh yesterday and remain strong through the week. There were no immediate reports of fatalities or civilian casualties. The Thomas Fire is the largest of several large blazes that broke out across Southern California following the onset of the Santa Ana winds.