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More than 100 000 urged to evacuate, 2 firemen injured as new wildfires rapidly spread in Southern California

southern-california-wildfires-october-2020

About 100 000 residents in Southern California were ordered to evacuate on Monday, October 26, 2020, as two rapidly spreading wildfires exploded in Orange County– the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires. Two firefighters sustained second and third-degree burns while battling the flames.

The Silverado Fire exploded from 4 ha (10 acres) to 2 850 ha (7 040 acres) by Monday evening during some of the season's most intense fire conditions.

According to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), as of 04:00 UTC on October 27 (21:00 LT on October 26), the fire has scorched 2 913 ha (7 200 acres) and is zero percent contained. 500 firefighters have been deployed to battle the flames. 

Fire Captain Greg Barta said 70 000 people in the area were ordered to evacuate their homes.

Two members of a fire hand crew were seriously injured, the OCFA reported. The firefighters– ages 26 and 32– suffered second and third-degree burns on at least half of their bodies.

"They are gravely injured. Their families are with them," said OCFA fire chief Brian Fennessy. "We are giving them all the support we can."

The Blue Ridge Fire erupted in the afternoon in Chino Hills, forcing the mandatory evacuation of more than 15 000 people. At least one house was damaged.

As of 08:00 UTC on October 27 (01:00 LT), the blaze has ripped through 2 704 ha (6 684 acres), according to Chino Valley Fire, and is zero percent contained. Almost 200 firefighters are in the field.

silverado-fire-oct-27-2020-2.

Silverado Fire with its plume flying 150 km (93 miles) from the California coast. Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-3, Antonio Vecoli.

Jim Matthews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) Sacramento, said firefighters across Southern California had been preparing for the onslaught of Santa Ana Winds, which are accompanied by low humidity.

The extreme weather conditions were expected to be similar to the circumstances that triggered destructive fires in the past years, like the 2019 Kincade Fire, 2018 Camp Fire, and 2017 Wine Country Fires, Mathews added.

"This is our severe weather season right now– fire weather."

Featured image credit: OCFA

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