Rapidly spreading wildfires in Southern California, which spread to more than 2,000 hectares within a few hours, are forcing people out of their homes.
California’s Orange County was red-flagged when the Bond fire broke out late Wednesday night. Shortly after the fire broke out, homes in Williams County were evacuated, and hundreds of people are now under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders.
It began as a structural fire in Silverado Canyon, but spread to nearby vegetation. A red flag warning indicates that weather conditions are ripe for the fire to spread, and dry vegetation serves as fuel for the flames. Because the wind powered the Bond fire, the Orange County Fire Department warned residents early Thursday morning to prepare for a quick departure.
Just three hours after the fire broke out, the fire “exploded” across 1,500 acres, and more than 240 firefighters were on duty to save property and lives.
Silverado Gorge, Williams Gorge, Modjeska Gorge, Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills west of El Toro and north of 241 Toll Road were under mandatory evacuation orders. The rest of the Portola Hills, Borrego Canyon, Baker Ranch, Live Oak Canyon, Trabuco Canyon, Rose Canyon, Valley Vista Way, Meadow Ridge Drive, Lake Forest from 241 Toll Road along Bake Parkway to Musick north of the Irvine Border – and from 241 Toll Road North to Bake to Foothill Ranch Community Park – were under a voluntary evacuation warning.
“Please prepare for departure now,” said the Orange County Fire Authority.
The problem for those people who get in the way of the fire is being exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. Normally, communities open shelters and temporary shelters for people displaced by a wildfire, but Orange County did not offer community housing because of the pandemic. Instead, the Orange County Fire Department “encouraged” residents leaving their homes to “seek shelter with family/friends or in a hotel”.
A Red Cross evacuation point was established at 8405 East Chapman Avenue and, according to Orange County Fire Department, toilets were available.
Along with those evicted from their homes, tens of thousands of homes in Southern California were without power on Thursday morning. Southern California’s Edison cut off power to nearly 35,000 customers to reduce the risk of the fire spreading, and San Diego Gas & Electric cut power to another 24,000 customers.
The wildfire was contained to zero percent by Thursday morning. The National Weather Service warned that Santa Ana winds could aggravate the fires into the weekend.