Bond Fire South of LA Forces 25,000 to Flee
Hot, dry and windy conditions fueled a wildfire southeast of Los Angeles Thursday that injured two firefighters and forced 25,000 to flee their homes.
As of Thursday evening, the Bond Fire had spread to 6,400 acres and was only 10 percent contained, the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) tweeted. It comes as California has already experienced its worst year for wildfires, The Associated Press reported. The Bond Fire is also burning close to where the Silverado Fire forced tens of thousands to evacuate in October. Among them was Kolbi Winters, who had to evacuate again Thursday.
"I had one month literally to enjoy myself before another fire happened," Winters told The Associated Press. "If this continues happening, and we don't take care of this, one day, I'm not going to have a home."
California's worsening fires have been linked to the climate crisis, as warmer temperatures make the state and its vegetation drier, fueling the flames.
The Bond Fire began in a house before 10:15 p.m. Wednesday night, CBSLA reported. However, three factors influenced its spread, according to CNN. A combination of Santa Ana winds up to 70 miles per hour, humidity as low as four percent and the hottest temperatures across the continental U.S. created a "particularly dangerous situation" for fires in the region, the National Weather Service Los Angeles said. These factors prompted utilities to shut off power to 123,000 customers as a preventative measure and sparked several fires, of which the Bond Fire was the largest, according to The Associated Press. High winds helped turn the house fire into a wildfire.
"When crews arrived it was a fully engulfed house and the winds were extremely strong and they pushed flames into the vegetation," OCFA spokeswoman Colleen Windsor told The Associated Press.
The blaze then damaged other structures.
"We know that a number of houses have been damaged, potentially destroyed," OCFA chief Brian Fennessy said at a press conference, The New York Times reported.
Fennessy also said that more than 500 firefighters from more than 30 agencies were helping to battle the flames. Two of those firefighters, who were with the U.S. Forest Service, were injured sometime Thursday afternoon, according to CBSLA. They were treated by paramedics and taken to a hospital, where their condition was not known. However, their injuries were not life-threatening, according to The New York Times.
The fire forced 25,000 to evacuate, though some evacuation orders were lifted, CNN reported. Evacuations were complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the contagious disease, authorities could not set up an overnight shelter and advised people to stay with family or in a hotel.
The Red Cross set up an evacuation point and said it had provided hotel rooms for 170 people, The New York Times reported.
The combination of back-to-back fires and the pandemic have taken a toll on the local community and its small businesses.
"Because of the fire, the quality of the air is very bad," 47-year-old Mohadeseh Sadollahi, who owns the Bellaria Coffee House in the evacuated community of Foothill Ranch, told The New York Times. "People can't sit outside, and they can't sit inside. As a small-business owner paying all my bills and rent, I can't fix it very easily."
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