IRVIN, California – Two firefighters were seriously injured and tens of thousands of California residents were forced to flee their homes on Monday as two new fires raged in Orange County.
About 90,800 Irvine residents have been subject to mandatory evacuation orders due to the Silverado fire and smaller Blue Ridge fire, said Shane Sherwood, division chief of the Orange County Fire Department. High winds and low humidity fueled the rapid growth of the fires.
Two injured firefighters, ages 26 to 31, were intubated after suffering second and third degree burns all over their bodies in the Silverado fire, according to a statement from the Orange County Fire Service.
“They were seriously injured,” said President Brian Vincci. “Their families are with them.”
Videos from the Silverado fire site showed winds of up to 80 miles per hour. “The winds are dreadful,” said Brian Alexander, 43, who evacuated his house Monday morning with his wife and 5-year-old son.
Mr. Alexander said that while packing his car before evacuating, there was a storm so strong that it hit his car door while he was trying to load his belongings.
Mr. Alexander said the wind came along with particles of ash and dust, resulting in “the worst air quality we had”.
About 4000 firefighters It was fighting 22 fires across the state on Monday, according to state fire agency Cal Fire. As evening approached, the Silverado Fire burned approximately 7,200 acres and the Blue Ridge Fire burned 3,000 acres. The Orange County Fire Department said a home was damaged in the Blue Ridge fire.
Video from the local news station KTLA It showed cars parked along an overpass on Highway 133 as bonfires lit up below and plumes of smoke blanketed the road.
Charlan Stephenson, 67, a retired nurse, said she was on a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning when she received an eviction alert on her mobile phone. When she returned home, a police officer outside the door of her apartment told her to vacate the building.
“When I woke up this morning, I smelled smoke,” said Mrs. Stephenson. “It was scary. I’ve lived in Irvine for four years since my husband’s death, and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the new fires. On Monday, Southern California Edison submitted his second report on wildfires this year to state regulators, stating that his equipment may have caused the Silverado fire. Last month, the utilities submitted a report saying their equipment was part of an investigation into the cause of the Bobcat fire, which burned more than 115,000 acres near Pasadena.
Silverado Fire is the latest in a season that has uprooted thousands of lives across the American West. More than five million acres were burned throughout California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state.
In Colorado, a snowstorm over the weekend caused two massive fires that killed an elderly couple, displaced thousands of people and destroyed dozens of homes in the northern mountains. But fire officials said the fires, while weak, were still burning under the ice.
He said “things are really laid down” Noelle Livingston, The accident leader in the Disturbing East Fire, which was burning on farms and second homes in Grand County, on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. “But it won’t put out the fire.”
Most of Colorado is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, which means one snow landfill in early winter will not alleviate the dangerous drought conditions and the dead beds that blazed like the foot of a mountain of matches last week, allowing the fires to explode.
Meteorologists said rain forecasts were poor for next week, which means fires could continue to grow once the snow melts.
Experts linked the increase in fires to climate change. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are leading to warmer and drier conditions – making trees and branches more vulnerable to combustion.
In California, the new evacuations came as hundreds of thousands of people lost power on Sunday due to what Cal Fire calledExtreme weather conditions fires“Such as high winds and low humidity that could increase the risk of more wildfires.
The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, has begun cutting electricity to 361,000 customers in 36 provinces, including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The company said in a statement. The facility expects to begin recovering energy on Tuesday.
Pacific Gas and Electric, which emerged from bankruptcy in June after incurring an estimated $ 30 billion in liability for wildfires, has increasingly used shutdowns to prevent its equipment from causing fires during extreme weather conditions.
This month, Pacific Gas and Electric informed state regulators that its equipment may have been involved in the cause of the Zogg Fire in September, which killed four people, destroyed more than 200 homes and businesses, and burned 56,338 acres. Fire investigators announced last week that utility equipment caused the 2019 Kincade fire that destroyed 374 buildings and burned 77,758 acres.
In Irvine, outside the University Community Park shelter, the sky was visible through a haze of smoke, and the winds were strong enough that it was difficult for some drivers to control the steering wheel.
Jianning Fu, 20, who lives with her mother, said she could see the smoke when she woke up around 8 am on Monday. “The sky was orange by that time, but I couldn’t see any fire,” Ms. Fu said. “I told my mom, we have to evacuate immediately.”
Anna Fasio Kreiser I mentioned from Irvine, Will Wright From Jersey City, NJ, and Johnny Diaz From Miami. Evan Bin Contributed to reporting from Burbank, California.