Wind fuels wildfire in California

Residents of the area have had to be evacuated, facing a high risk due to the forest fire that reached the canyons of southern California

| 03/12/2020 | ionicons-v5-c22: 51 | AP |

LOS ANGELES – Strong gusts of wind sent flames from a wildfire to the canyons of Southern California on Thursday, one of several fires burning near homes that have forced residents to evacuate amid a high fire risk that caused power companies to cut power to hundreds of thousands of people.

The largest fire started Wednesday night in a home located in the Silverado Canyon of the orange county, where the winds reached a maximum speed of 113 kilometers per hour (70 miles per hour).

« When crews arrived they found a house completely engulfed and the winds were extremely strong and pushed the flames into the vegetation, » said Colleen Windsor, a spokeswoman for the county fire department.

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

Crews struggled on rugged terrain amid unpredictable Santa Ana winds – which are extremely dry – that sent flames onto major highways. Two firefighters were hospitalized after being treated at the fire site for injuries, fire chief Brian Fennessy said. He added that his state of health was unknown at the moment.

Some homes were damaged in the fire and others were possibly destroyed, Fennessy said. He said that for now he could not say how many houses were affected.

Evacuation orders were issued for thousands of residents of neighborhoods surrounding the city of Lake Forest, although some were later removed, and residents of other nearby areas were instructed to be ready to leave their homes.

The fire had not been contained.

Numerous studies have linked large wildfires in the United States to climate change caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists have said that global warming has made California much drier, making trees and other plants more flammable.

Another fire burns about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, and there is another near the Corona City Municipal Airport.

An evacuation was ordered when a small fire broke out near the rural community of Nuevo in Riverside County and, to the south, a small fire in San Diego County threatened about 200 homes before firefighters managed to contain 50%. At least one structure was destroyed and six others were damaged, according to 10 News San Diego.

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