Californians flee as strong winds push fire through canyons
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Powerful winds pushed flames through Southern California canyons early Thursday as an out-of-control wildfire burned near homes and forced residents to flee.
The blaze in Orange County's Silverado Canyon began late Wednesday as a house fire that quickly spread to tinder-dry brush as gusts topped 70 mph (113 kph).
It exploded in size throughout the night and as the sun came up, an enormous plume of smoke was visible for miles.
Firefighters struggled in steep terrain amid unpredictable Santa Ana winds that have raised fire danger for much of the region.
Orange County Fire Authority Captain Thanh Nguyen said crews were scrambling to stay ahead of flames that jumped major roads.
“We’ve seen the wind change also drastically, so that’s what we’re telling all our personnel to be aware of — that constantly changing wind,” he told CBS LA TV.
Evacuations were ordered for several canyon neighborhoods near the city of Lake Forest and residents of other nearby areas were told to be ready to get out. It was not immediately known how many people were affected or if any homes were damaged.
Numerous studies have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists have said climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.
The Bond Fire about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles is burning near the same area of October’s Silverado Fire, which forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
The new blaze broke out as Southern California utilities cut the power to tens of thousands of customers to avoid the threat of wildfires during the notorious Santa Anas.
Red flag warnings of extreme fire danger through Saturday were in place because of...