Fans of the wind are on fire in the canyons of California, with residents fleeing

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Strong gusts of wind set fire to a fire through the canyons of Southern California, one of the fires that burned near homes, forcing residents to flee amid increased fire risk in much of the region, causing hundreds of thousands of utilities to cut off power supplies to utilities. .

The biggest flare-up began late Wednesday as a house fire in Silverado Canyon, Orange County, where gusts exceeded 70 mph (113 mph).

“When the staff arrived, it was a completely flooded house, the wind was extremely strong and flames were thrown into the vegetation,” said Colleen Windsor, a spokeswoman for the County Fire Department.

The fire grew to more than 11 square kilometers (29 square kilometers) and covered a wide area with smoke and ash.

The crew struggled on steep terrain amid unpredictable Santa Ana winds that set fire to the main roads. Two firefighters were taken to hospital after being cared for at the scene due to injury, said fire chief Brian Fennessy. He said they did not know their condition immediately.

Some homes were damaged in the fire and probably destroyed, Fennessy said. He said he could not immediately tell how many houses were affected.

An evacuation was ordered for thousands of residents around the canyon and foothills near Lake Forest – although some orders were later disbanded – and residents of nearby areas were told they were ready to get out.

The fire was not suppressed.

Several studies have linked major fires in America to climate change resulting from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.

The Bond Fire, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles, burns near the same area of ​​the October Silverado Fire that forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

Kolbi Winters said the helicopters flew over his head all night and received a warning before dawn that he might have to evacuate his home. A few hours later, he received an instruction to disembark and packed up and set off for the second time in recent months at a hotel where he would stay with his partner, dog, and cat.

“I literally had a month to feel good before another fire happened,” Winters said. “If that continues to happen and we don’t take care of it, one day I won’t have a home.”

The new flames exploded as Southern California utilities reduced tens of thousands of customers to avoid the danger of fires during the infamous Santa Anas.

Due to the low humidity, the bone-dry brush and the wind, the red flag warnings until Saturday are valid for extreme fire hazards, the National Meteorological Service said.

As a precautionary measure, utilities in the residential region on Wednesday began cutting power supplies to prevent gusts of wind to blow wooden limbs into electrical equipment and not to cut electrical wires that have triggered devastating fires in recent years.

Edison, Southern California, on Thursday night cut power to nearly 50,000 homes and businesses and considered unplugging lines in seven counties to serve about 190,000 other customers throughout the windy period, which could last until Saturday.

This was one of the biggest precautionary power outages.

San Diego Gas & Electric pulled about 55,000 customers out of the outlet, with another 40,000 in the crosshairs.

“We acknowledge that the power outage is disturbing and we sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” the utility said.

A few miles north, near Corona City Airport, State Road 71 caught fire and residents prepared to flee.

An evacuation was ordered when a small wildfire broke out near the village community of Nuevo in Riverside County, about 80 miles east.

And in the south, a small flaming San Diego county threatened about 200 homes and forced them to evacuate before firefighters managed to curb 50 percent of it. At least one structure was destroyed and six others were damaged, according to 10 News San Diego.

California has already experienced its worst year because of the fires. More than 6,500 square miles (16,835 square miles) were scorched, which is larger than the combined area of ​​Connecticut and Rhode Island. At least 31 people were killed and 10,500 houses and other buildings were damaged or destroyed.

The latest fire hazard occurs when much of California sinks deeper into drought. In practice, there is a severe or extreme drought in Northern California, while in Southern California it is almost entirely abnormally dry or worse.


Associated Press reporter Amy Taxin from Orange County, California, contributed.