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Southern CA to evacuate as blaze grows

Fast-moving wildfires

forced evacuation orders

for more than 100,000

people and seriously injured

two firefighters

in Southern California

on Monday as powerful

winds across the state

prompted power to be cut

to hundreds of thousands

to prevent utility equipment

from sparking new

blazes.

A smoky fi re exploded

in size to over 11 square

miles after breaking out

around dawn in Orange

County, south of Los

Angeles. Gusts pushed

flames along brushy

ridges in Silverado Canyon

and near houses in

the sprawling city of

Irvine, home to about

280,000 residents. There

was no containment.

Two fi refi ghters, one

26 and the other 31 years

old, were critically injured

while battling the

blaze, according to the

county’s Fire Authority,

which didn’t provide

details on how the injuries

occurred. They each

suffered second- and

third-degree burns over

large portions of their

bodies and were intubated

at a hospital, offi –

cials said.

Nearby, a much

smaller fi re in the Yorba

Linda area prompted the

evacuation of at least

10,000 people, offi cials

said.

At the Irvine-area fi re,

Kelsey Brewer and her

three roommates decided

to leave their townhouse

before the evacuation

order came in. The question

was where to go in

the pandemic. They decided

on the home of her

girlfriend’s mother, who

has ample space and lives

alone.

“We literally talked

about it this morning,”

Brewer said, adding that

she feels lucky to have

a safe place to go. “We

can only imagine how

screwed everyone else

feels. There’s nowhere

you can go to feel safe.”

Helicopters dropping

water and fi re retardant

were grounded for much

of the afternoon because

strong winds made it unsafe

to fl y. However, a

large air tanker and other

aircraft began making

drops again several hours

before sunset.

Officials didn’t immediately

know the cause of the

fires.

Southern California Edison

shut off power to nearly

40,000 customers in six

counties — which includes

the wildfire areas — as a

precaution against the gusts

knocking down equipment

or tossing tree branches into

power lines and sparking

blazes.

In the northern part of the

state, Pacific Gas & Electric

began restoring power to

some of the 350,000 customers

— an estimated 1

million people — in 34

counties that were left in

the dark Sunday because of

some of the fiercest winds of

the fire season.

PG&E said it had restored

power to nearly

100,000 customers as winds

eased in some areas, with

electricity to be back on at

the other homes and buildings

by Tuesday night after

crews make air and ground

inspections to make repairs

and ensure it’s safe.

A dozen reports of damage

had been received,

PG&E said.

However, the fire threat

was far from over in many

parts of PG&E’s vast service

area.

“We’re already starting

to see winds pick back up,”

hitting 50 mph in some regions

with bone-dry humidity

leading to extreme fire

danger Monday evening,

said Scott Strenfel, PG&E’s

head of meteorology.

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