Wildfire explodes in California, forcing about 60,000 to evacuate

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Approximately 60,000 people have been ordered to evacuate after a wildfire broke out early Monday in Santiago Canyon east of Irvine amid powerful Santa Ana winds, CBS Los Angeles reports. The Silverado Fire — located in Orange County some 42 miles south of Los Angeles — was reported just before 7 a.m. near Limestone Canyon Regional Park. Within about three hours it had exploded to 2,000 acres with zero containment, officials said.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for about 60,000 residents in the Orchard Hills neighborhood, the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) reported.

Homes have been threatened, although there have not yet been any reports that structures have been damaged or destroyed, according to CBS LA. Officials have said they have not yet determined the cause of the fire. 

OCFA tweeted video showing flames in windy conditions as they charred what appeared to be dry brush:

The fire jumped the 241 Freeway from east to west, forcing the road to close between Santiago Canyon Road and the 133 Freeway. Several schools have been evacuated.

“The wind is crazy, my family has been through it in Malibu,” evacuee Ruby Johnson told CBS LA. “It’s a crazy thing, never had to experience it ourselves. You can replace clothes and things, but you can’t replace your lives. I’ve got all the pictures and valuables, so we’re ready to go.”

Wind gusts in the area were reaching up to 70 miles per hour. OCFA and CAL Fire crews were battling the fire on the ground and in the air with the assistance of several other agencies. But OCFA said all air support has been grounded due to the high winds. 

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of the Southland through Tuesday night due to Santa Ana winds, dry conditions and low humidity.

Because of the confluence of variables, the National Weather Service reported the region is seeing the most dangerous wildfire conditions since October of 2019, when the Saddleridge, Tick, Getty, Easy and Maria fires destroyed dozens of homes and forced thousands of people to flee in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Peter Martinez contributed to this report.

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