A wildfire in Southern California has forced thousands of people to evacuate and could create an even greater threat as dangerous high-speed winds continue to spread the blaze.
The Bond Fire in Orange County began as a house fire and spread to about 4,000 acres by Thursday morning, the Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, other fires forced evacuations in Riverside County.
The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning Thursday morning. Gusts of wind from the Santa Ana wind event could reach speeds of around 60 – 70 mph in the foothills and mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties and 35 – 40 mph in lower valleys and coastal areas. (RELATED: California’s Wildfires Have Burned Enough Carbon To Power Roughly 23 Coal Plants For One Year, Estimates Show)
“This is a particularly dangerous situation due to an unusual duration of extremely dry vegetation, strong winds, and very dry air leading to very critical fire weather conditions,” the National Weather Service said. “Any new fire ignition in these areas will likely have very dangerous fire spread that could potentially threaten life and property.”
A Santa Ana wind event is expected to impact southern California into the weekend. These winds are strong downslope winds that blow through the mountain passes. The winds are warm and dry and can severely exacerbate brush or forest fires. For more: https://t.co/vBHERHekNX pic.twitter.com/eekfzfauyy
— National Weather Service (@NWS) December 3, 2020
Fires could spread rapidly under these conditions, and trees and power lines could be knocked down by the strong winds.
The most severe conditions were expected to last through noon Thursday. In San Diego County, winds hit 90 mph in the mountains Thursday morning and red-flag warnings will remain in effect through Saturday, the Washington Post reported.
Another wind event could develop late Monday or Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
California had its worst fire season in history in 2020, according to the Washington Post. About 4.2 million acres were burned – more than double the previous record – and at least 10,488 structures were destroyed. The record-breaking fires killed at least 31 people.
The Red Cross created temporary evacuation points instead of public shelters due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group will arrange hotel rooms for those who were forced to leave their homes due to the wildfires, the Post reported.