STORY: Hundreds have been forced to evacuate from their homes in California due to rapid-moving wildfires that have engulfed an enclave of multi-million-dollar mansions in southern Los Angeles.
Residents of around 900 houses were under evacuation on the state’s coast on Wednesday when the fires swept through Orange County officials have said one firefighter was injured when flames torched around 200 acres in Laguna Niguel on Wednesday.
On Thursday, resident Sassan Darian described a fast and devastating fire:
“The heat started getting on us and it was really… the wind got worse and the fire sparks started jumping, and you can see it got really, really close, really, really quick. And when we got out here, the fire trucks were already here and everything and they had already called the evacuation order from the helicopter.”
Fire Captain Joseph Amador’s teams says it was an overnight struggle to contain the blaze:
“We arrived this morning to relieve very tired crews that were battling all these structures here behind me that were heavily damaged. We're here today to protect the ones that are still standing and also to put out the remaining fires of the ones that are still either salvageable or to make sure that they're no longer a threat. So, we have a heavy, busy day in front of us also, but we're going to do our very best to protect the rest of the community.”
Another resident of Laguna Niguel – Darlene Disebrucker – was forced to evacuate her home and spend the night in a shelter:
"So, this is devastating to people who do live here. (People are) shocked that it's a more affluent neighborhood, but people have lost their homes. It doesn't matter where you live then, it's your home. And the thought of losing your home is a very scary thing. "
Officials have said California is enduring an historic drought… experts also say a lack of winter moisture - combined with warmer temperatures, is causing vegetation to dry out earlier each spring… making it more susceptible to fire.
U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered federal aid for fire recovery efforts.