Residents flee fire sweeping through Southern California canyon

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LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Two firefighters were injured and residents of a rustic Southern California canyon were driven from their homes after a blaze broke out overnight at a single-family home and tore across some 4,000 acres (1,618ha) of dry brush and wooded hillsides.

Some 500 firefighters, aided by water-dropping aircraft, were still battling the flames, which sent smoke drifting across Orange and Los Angeles counties. The crews had not achieved any containment as of Thursday afternoon (Dec 3).

The Bond Fire, named for the street where it started, ignited around 10pm on Wednesday night and was quickly whipped through Silverado Canyon in Orange County by gusty Santa Ana winds.

“I got a text message from my neighbour saying ‘Are you okay? Your street is on fire,'” said Ms Giovanna Gibson, 60, who lives on Bond Street. She was at her small business office near John Wayne Airport at the time.

Ms Gibson said she wouldn’t have received that warning had she been home in Silverado Canyon, which has little cell phone reception.

Neighbours told Ms Gibson the blaze ignited when the owners of a home without power tried to start their generator and it exploded. Fire officials have not yet said what they believe to be the cause of the fire.

Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze and have been transported to a local hospital for further treatement, the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter.

Fire managers said they believed homes and other structures had been damaged by the blaze but could not yet provide details.

Southern California Edison had cut power to parts of the canyon at the outset of the hot, dry Santa Ana winds.

Workers repair power lines damaged during the Bond Fire in the Silverado Canyon area of Orange County on Dec 3, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

An Edison spokesman confirmed that the utility had cut power to some of the homes in the canyon.

“We’re in December and we now have active wildfires still in our state,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said at a press briefing. “These Santa Ana winds have been quite intense.”

The woodsy Silverado Canyon, miles from Southern California’s suburban sprawl and only reachable by a single winding road, is home to an eclectic mix of residents including artists, horse owners and ranchers.

Since the start of the year, wildfires have scorched more than 17,000sq km of California land according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The yearly land area burned in the western United States has grown eight times larger in less than four decades, the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station said in research published last month.

Bastion Balance Seoul.