A wind-driven Bond Fire erupted in parts of Southern California late on Wednesday, and quickly spread into nearby hillsides.
The Bond Fire nearly quadrupled in size in just a few hours, exploding to about 7,200 acres on Thursday afternoon, according to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA).
The huge fire forced over 25,000 people to evacuate, and injured two firefighters on the scene. Both firefighters have already been treated and transported to a hospital. Their conditions are unknown as of this writing.
Residents of Silverado Canyon, Modjeska Canyon, Williams Canyon, Black Star and Baker canyons and portions of Portola Hills and Foothill Ranch are affected by the Bond Fire and have been mandated to leave the area.
Voluntary evacuation warnings were also issued for areas spanning from Trabuco Canyon to north Tustin.
Press conference for the #BondFire scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Incident Command Post at Irvine Great Park. We will be live streaming on our Facebook: https://t.co/vQXoKJzdOY pic.twitter.com/vEYW3rcfOr— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) December 3, 2020
The Bond Fire started late Wednesday as a structure fire, and quickly jumped into nearby vegetation in Silverado Canyon. A number of homes have been damaged and some may have been completely destroyed, officials of OCFA said.
With California is still battling rising cases of COVID-19, authorities said there are no congregate shelter available for the evacuees. Affected residents are asked to “seek safety with family or friends or in a hotel.” A temporary Red Cross evacuation point has been set up at the Santiago Canyon College to assist residents in their evacuation.
The air quality in the area took a nosedive on Thursday because of the Bond Fire. The Environmental Protection Agency monitoring site Air Now showed Orange, Irvine, Tustin and other areas near the Bond Fire hovering in the unhealthy air quality range.
Authorities encourage residents to reduce their time outdoors and avoid strenuous activities.
OCFA Captain Thanh Nguyen said crews were battling steep terrain, heavy bush and life-threatening fire weather conditions, making their task to put out the fire more challenging and difficult.
“The big challenge we have here is not only the topography, the contour of the hillsides, but the wind,” Nguyen told Los Angeles Times.
About 500 firefighters are battling the blaze, and helicopters have been launched to assist.
Dangerous fire weather conditions are currently affecting wide swaths of Southern California, fueled by the gusty Santa Ana winds.
Firefighters in Riverside County are trying to get the upper hand on the Airport Fire in Corona. The 105-acre vegetation fire temporarily prompted warnings earlier Thursday, but has already been lifted.
California has battled five of the six largest wildfires in the state’s history just this year, testing the limits of fire authorities.
California’s wildfire season typically runs from July through November, but officials urge residents to stay vigilant over the coming days.