California wildfires: 1,000 firefighters battle to curb blazes as ‘less than third contained’

Joe Middleton
·2 min read
Firefighters work to extinguish flames on a hillside during the Bond Fire in Lake Forest, California (EPA-EFE)
Firefighters work to extinguish flames on a hillside during the Bond Fire in Lake Forest, California (EPA-EFE)

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling a blaze in Southern California, but are facing high winds and low humidity expected to stoke the flames further.

Thousands of people have already been forced to leave their homes after the Bond Fire broke out on Wednesday.

Despite the evacuations, firefighters are making some progress, with 30 per cent of the blaze now contained, Orange County fire officials confirmed on social media.

"Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing hot spots, mopping up around structures and stopping the forward spread of this fire," county fire official Paul Holaday said in a video posted to Twitter.

In a further sign of progress, some evacuation orders were lifted on Friday, including some in the Lake Forest Community.

But Utility Pacific and Electric Co has said it is prepared to cut power in some parts of the state if the dry conditions and high winds continue, amid fears the weather conditions could cause the wildfire to further spread.

The possible power shut-off could happen on Monday and will impact 160,000 homes and businesses.

Two firefighters taken to hospital with injuries on Thursday were released and were "doing okay," the fire officials said on Twitter.

On Twitter, the Orange County Fire Authority said the blaze started as a structure fire in Silverado Canyon on Bond Road that "fully engulfed a home." Strong winds then drove the flames into nearby vegetation, officials said.

Residents said the flames erupted when a home generator exploded.

Since the start of the year, wildfires have scorched more than 6,500 sq miles (17,000 sq km) of California land, the state's forestry department says.

The land area burned each year in the western United States has grown eight times larger in less than four decades, US Forest Service researchers said last month.

The wildfires come at a trying time for the state which is also battling an alarming increase in coronavirus infections.

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