Thousands Flee California Wildfires, Winds Could Push Threat into Next Week


An out-of-control wildfire spread quickly, sparked by a house fire late Wednesday, worsened by a Santa Ana wind event on Thursday at speeds of 95 mph, with zero containment and forcing thousands to hastily evacuate.

Thousands to evacuate in Southern California amid multiple wildfires

There are multiple wildfires burning in Southern California, some of which are forcing thousands to evacuate, at the same time that California and Los Angeles County are enacting stricter lockdowns. Officials have advised evacuees to seek out hotels, the Washington Post reported.

In Orange County, a house fire on late Wednesday sparked a blaze that quickly spread into the brush and exploded into a wildfire, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, CBS Los Angeles reported.

The wildfire, now known as the Bond Fire, raced through Silverado Canyon, forcing thousands of residents to flee. Winds gusted up to 70 mph and flames reached between 50-60 feet in height, CBS News reports.

By midday on Thursday local time, at least 7,200 acres had burned with zero percent containment. At least 500 firefighters are battling the flames, working on how to stop smoking embers from spreading the fire to other locations. Two firefighters were hospitalized with injuries on Thursday afternoon, CBS reported. The extent of the injuries is unknown.

Evacuations were also required due to other wildfires in nearby Riverside County.

Red flag warnings, ongoing high winds expected into next week

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued red flag warnings on Friday throughout southern and southwestern California, including the Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego areas.

In the short term, a moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event with winds blowing from the land to the sea is expected to continue through Friday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as well as extremely low relative humidity. Farther south, into San Diego County, where wind gusts hit 90 mph, red flag warnings are in effect through Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued a rare “particularly dangerous situation” red-flag warning for the Santa Clarita Valley and the mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Post reported.

“Due to the combination of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds, and very dry air especially Thursday morning into Thursday afternoon,” the NWS said.

Dry season leading to rare Santa Ana wind events

The National Weather Service also forecast that another Santa Ana wind event may affect Southern California into next week. The NWS also saw signs of a strong offshore wind event that will heighten the fire danger in Northern California in the coming days.

Such an event is extremely rare at this time of year. However, it is been an extremely dry season. Northern California has not received enough rain and mountain snow.

By this time of year, normally, the area would be moving into the heart of its rainy season that essentially ends the fire season.