SANTA ROSA, CA – Dry and windy conditions that prompted fire warnings forced wildfire to surge over the Anaheim Hills on Monday. Thousands were evacuated as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.
At least 10 people were killed and more than1,500 buildings destroyed as wildfires burned through northern and southern California. Two were seriously injured, fire officials said.
More than 1,000 homes were evacuated from the Anaheim Hills neighborhood.
The wildfire started at around 9:20 a.m. near the 91 Freeway and Gypsum Canyon Road, and quickly surged over the California 241 toll road. It raced up a hill and hit homes at the top of it. Several homes were burning and continued to burn even as firefighters sprayed them with water.
By 9 p.m., the flame had burnt more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 24 structures. One firefighter needed a treatment for smoke inhalation.
Two hours later, an Anaheim police spokesman said the fire was 5% contained. All evacuation orders were to remain overnight, he said, and it was “doubtful” residents would be allowed to go home on Tuesday.
The largest wildfire was on Atlas Peak and it was growing quickly to more than 8,000 acres near Napa.
Orange County fire officials evacuated more than 5,000 homes in three cities as the fast-moving fire grew, spitting smoke into the air that was visible over Disneyland and caused officials to issue air quality warnings in many parts of Los Angeles County.
Officials had set up a protection for a large number of animals at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Also, evacuees needing an overnight shelter were being directed to the Downtown Anaheim Youth Center, the East Anaheim Community Center and El Modena High School in Orange.
A non-emergency information hotline was set up in Orange County at (714) 744-7550.
Because of the speed of the fire, responders were not attacking the blaze directly, focusing instead on moving people out of their home and away from the fire. Firefighters hoped to take a more direct approach against the flame, which could allow them to stop its advance if conditions become more favorable late Monday or early Tuesday.
Winds were likely to calm down overnight, Wyatt said, but officials feared that low humidity and a return of strong explosions could pick back up and fuel the blaze Tuesday.
Vice President Mike Pence, in Los Angeles Monday night for fundraisers and local events, commented on the wildfires, “all of you in the path of these advancing wildfires” to know “that we are with you.”
“We also asked Congress to put more toward expenses — it has been a challenging month and a half for natural disasters, for hurricanes affecting Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico — but I want to assure California that we will be working closely with Gov. Brown to see you through these challenging times,” Pence said.
By Tuesday, “we are gonna be as stretched as we can be,” said Steven Beech, an incident commander with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.