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Wildfire breaks out outside Los Angeles, forcing evacuation of 25,000 residents

Exacerbated by wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour and extremely dry conditions, a rapid wildfire spread over more than 7,200 acres in southern California on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of 25,000 residents, officials said.

Two US Forest Service firefighters were hospitalized with non-fatal injuries they sustained Thursday while trying to contain the Bond fire, which had started the previous night in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County, to the south -is Los Angeles, authorities said.

The mountains share the name of the Santa Ana Winds, hot desert winds that descend on the Pacific Coast region around Los Angeles and often fuel forest fires, according to the National Weather Service. Fire officials attributed the spread of the Bond fire to the winds.

On Wednesday, several hours before the wildfire began, the Orange County Fire Authority had placed the county under a red flag warning and urged residents to be aware of the increasing danger of fire due to the dry and windy conditions.

The blaze began with a blaze at a house in Silverado, about 80 miles from Los Angeles, and quickly spread to the surrounding area, firefighters said. The cause was under investigation.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, around 25,000 people had been evacuated to several communities northeast of Irvine, according to emergency responders, who said there had been no containment of the blaze.

“We know a number of homes have been damaged, potentially destroyed,” Brian Fennessy, the Orange County Fire Authority chief, said at an afternoon press conference.

Chief Fennessy said more than 500 firefighters were fighting the blazes and more than 30 agencies were involved in the effort, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

He urged residents of affected communities, some of whom were still reeling from a forest fire in October, to use their common sense when deciding whether or not to evacuate.

“You don’t have to wait for us to call you,” said Chef Fennessy. “If in doubt, evacuate.”

Emergency responders said broken power lines and utility poles posed dangers to area residents.

At the same press conference, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes warned residents that they should have their medications and other necessities ready to go in case they need to evacuate.

“When you need to go, go then,” Sheriff Barnes said.

Greta Gustafson, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Orange County, said Thursday that the organization had provided hotel rooms to 170 evacuees. The Red Cross has set up a temporary evacuation point at a local high school, she said.

The Bond blaze is not far from where two firefighters were seriously injured in October during efforts to contain the Silverado blaze, which burned more than 12,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 130,000 people.

A spokeswoman for the US Forest Service said Thursday that injuries sustained by firefighters in the Bond blaze were not life threatening.

Mohadeseh Sadollahi, 47, owner of Bellaria Café in Foothill Ranch, a community south of the blaze that had been ordered to evacuate, said the roads had been closed.

“They can’t walk, they can’t drive,” she said of the residents. “People can’t get anything. Besides Covid-19, this is on top of that.

Ms Sadollahi said she lost five working days due to the Silverado fire in October, which worsened the economic effects of the pandemic.

“Because of the fire, the air quality is very bad,” she says. “People cannot sit outside or sit inside. As a small business owner who pays all of my bills and my rent, I can’t deal with this very easily. “

Chary Chaisawasdi, 45, an employee of the Twohubs Cycling Boutique in Foothill Ranch, said on Thursday the area was empty.

“It was pretty much a ghost town,” he says. “I didn’t realize the fire was so bad.”

He said he was not surprised by the latest wildfire.

“For us, it’s a routine, every 10 years,” he says. “It’s kind of like you live in California, you expect earthquakes and fires. I think Covid is affecting the region more, to be honest.

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California wildfires escalate, forcing thousands to flee

Two wildfires raged across southern California on Tuesday, nearly doubling in volume overnight and forcing hundreds more people to flee during what was the state’s worst fire season on record.

The fires in Orange County have put more than 90,000 people on emergency evacuation orders, many in the town of Irvine. Their homes are threatened by the Silverado fire, which has now burned down on 11,200 acres, and the Blue Ridge fire, which is approximately 8,000 acres in size.

About 700 firefighters have battled the fires, which so far have damaged only one house, but the area of ​​concern has widened as winds blew the fires to new areas, including towards Chino Hills, a city of about 84,000 people located on the corner of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.

The Orange County Fire Authority, which is the lead agency for fighting the two fires, said it hopes the softening winds will slow the pace of the fires and allow firefighters to use planes to contain the blazes . Silverado Fire is only 5% contained and Blue Ridge Fire is completely unconfined.

On Monday, powerful gusts swept through the area at a speed of 130 km / h, making it more difficult for firefighters to contain the spread of the fires and for residents to evacuate. They also spread smoke in the area.

Two firefighters were seriously injured in the Silverado blaze and they were intubated Monday after receiving second and third degree burns to most of their bodies, said Brian Fennessy, the fire chief. The firefighters are 26 and 31 years old.

Investigators have not determined what started the fires, but on Monday, Southern California Edison filed its second wildland fire report this year, saying his equipment could have caused the Silverado fire. Last month, the utility filed a report saying its equipment was part of an investigation into the cause of the Bobcat fire, which burned more than 115,000 acres near Pasadena.

The 2020 fire season saw massive wildfires raging across California and other western states. Experts have linked the worsening fire season to climate change, as emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels have led to warmer and drier conditions.

Over five million acres burned across California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington state. In California alone, the fires have burned more than 4.1 million acres, destroyed 10,488 homes and other structures, and killed at least 31 people.