World News – United States – 70,000 people in Southern California must evacuate after fire escalates


LOS ANGELES (AP) – A rapid wildfire forced evacuation orders for 70,000 people and seriously injured two firefighters in Southern California on Monday as strong winds across the state have caused the power to be cut in the hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from starting new fires

The smoky fire exploded to more than 10 square miles in a matter of hours at dawn in Orange County, south of Los Angeles Strong gusts pushed the flames along the brushy ridges of Silverado Canyon and across close to the homes of the sprawling town of Irvine, home to around 280,000 residents There was no containment

Two firefighters, one 26 and the other 31, were seriously injured while fighting the blaze, according to county fire departments, which failed to provide details of how the injuries occurred They each suffered second and third degree burns to large parts of their bodies and were intubated in a hospital, officials said.

Kelsey Brewer and her three roommates decided to leave their house before the evacuation order arrived The question was where to go in the pandemic They chose the house of his girlfriend’s mother, who has plenty of space and lives alone

“We literally talked about it this morning,” Brewer said, adding that she felt lucky to have a safe place to go. “We can only imagine how fucked up everyone feels. you can’t go anywhere to feel safe « 

The water-spreading helicopters were briefly immobilized because high winds made the flight unsafe Officials did not immediately know the cause of the blaze, one of several that has broken out in the area, including including another in Orange County which resulted in evacuation orders near the town of Yorba Linda

Around 355,000 electricity customers – estimated at around 1 million people – were in darkness in the northern part of the state as authorities issued warnings for what could be the strongest winds. forts in California this year

Firefighting crews who were ready overnight quickly contained small fires that broke out on Sunday in Sonoma and Shasta counties in northern California The causes were under investigation

North of San Francisco, a Mount St. Helena weather station recorded a hurricane force gust of 143 km / h (89 mph) late Sunday and sustained winds of 122 km / h (76 mph) ) Some peaks in the Sierra Nevada recorded gusts well above 100 mph (161 mph)

The « shutdowns likely prevented dangerous fires last night It is almost impossible to imagine that winds of this magnitude would not have sparked major conflagrations in recent years, » Daniel Swain, a climatologist, said on Twitter at UCLA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research

The winds had calmed down slightly on Monday, but still exceeded 60 mph (97 km / h) and strong winds and dry conditions were expected to prevail until Tuesday A second round of strong gusts are expected to sweep through the same areas on Monday evening, the National Meteorological Service Authorities extended a red flag extreme fire danger warning until 5 p.m. Tuesday for mountainous areas in the eastern and northern region

Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable October and November are traditionally the worst months for fires, but already this year 8,600 fires of forest in the state burned a record 6,400 square miles (16,600 square kilometers) and destroyed around 9,200 homes, businesses and other buildings There were 31 dead

The power cuts marked the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric, the country’s largest utility, has cut off electricity to customers to reduce the risk of power lines outage or fouled or other equipment likely to cause fires in dry weather severe conditions and winds

The utility cut power to about 355,000 customers in 34 counties in northern California, but said improving weather conditions enabled it to avoid cutting power in two other central counties from california

« This event is by far the biggest we have seen this year, the most extreme weather, » said Aaron Johnson, vice president of fire safety and public service public engagement. « We let’s try to find ways to make the events less difficult « 

Conditions could match those of the devastating fires in California’s wine country in 2017 and last year’s Kincade fire that devastated Sonoma County north of San Francisco last October, said the National Weather Service Fire officials said PG&E transmission lines started the blaze, which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused nearly 100,000 to flee

Extreme fire danger loomed over southern California on Sunday evening following cooler temperatures and patchy drizzle over the weekend A peak north of Los Angeles recorded a 156 km gust / h (97 mph)

Southern California Edison cut power to about 20,000 customers on Monday, mostly in San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles The utility said it was considering preventative security outages for approximately 115,000 additional customers in six counties later in the day

Los Angeles County officials urged residents to sign up for emergency evacuation notices and prepare to stay with family or friends in less risky areas Local fire officials have increased staffing as a precaution

Winds of up to 56 km / h (56 km / h) at low altitudes and over 113 km / h (113 km / h) in mountainous areas have been reported in southern California, a declared the National Weather Service Officials feared any spark could turn into flames sweeping through dry tinder brush and forests

Many of this year’s devastating fires were sparked by thousands of dry lightning strikes, but some remain under investigation for potential electrical causes While the largest fires in California have been fully or significantly contained, more 5,000 firefighters remain in 20 fires, state fire officials said

Utilities officials said the planned blackouts were a safety measure and understood they were weighing on residents, especially with many people working from home and their children taking online classes due to the the coronavirus pandemic

Sheriff Kory Honea of ​​Butte County in northern California, where a fire in 2018 decimated the town of Paradise and killed 84 people, expressed concern about residents of foothill communities during the power outages, as cell service can be spotty and this is the only way for many to stay informed when the power goes out

« It’s pretty hard for them to have to see them again and again, » he said.

Rodriguez reported from San Francisco Associated Press editor Amy Taxin of Orange County, Calif., contributed to this report

Silverado, Orange County, wildfires, emergency evacuation, Irvine, Southern California

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