Firefighters Battle Wind-Driven Blazes in Southern California

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake: Now published this video item, entitled “Firefighters Battle Wind-Driven Blazes in Southern California” – below is their description.

    Firefighters continued to battle blazes across Southern California on Tuesday as windy conditions remained a factor in the region. Air crews were on the scene of a brush fire along the hillsides of Glendale north of Los Angeles in the afternoon, hitting the area hard with water drops. Fierce winds that drove twin fires through brushy hills near cities in Orange County a day earlier were expected to pick back up, although not to the earlier extremes, according to the National Weather Service. Southern California Edison reported to regulators that it was investigating whether its equipment might have sparked the Silverado Fire near the city of Irvine. With utility equipment blamed for several destructive fires in recent years, Edison was among the utilities in California that deliberately cut power to customers to prevent equipment from being knocked down or hit with debris in the winds and sparking wildfires. Irvine residents had to evacuate after a fire broke out early Monday, while later and a few miles away, another blaze, the Blue Ridge Fire, sent people fleeing from the Yorba Linda area. New evacuations were ordered Tuesday as others were lifted. More than 70,000 people remained out of their homes. At least 10 homes were damaged and crews protected hundreds more as winds pushed flames down ridges toward neighborhoods. There was little containment of the fires, which continued to grow throughout the day. Forecasts call for Santa Ana winds to keep blowing over much of Southern California, with some of the strongest gusts howling through Orange County, where the major blazes are. The winds were expected to be lighter than a day earlier and die down by nighttime. The gusts were so strong Monday that they toppled several semi-trucks on highways and forced firefighters to ground their aircraft, though they got back up by late afternoon and were expected to fly Tuesday. Two firefighters, one 26 and the other, 31, remained in critical condition after being injured while battling the larger blaze near Irvine, 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 at a hospital with their families by their sides, said OCFA Chief Brian Fennessey. Southern California Edison cut power to about 38,000 homes and businesses, although it restored some power by Monday night. Scientists have said climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable. October and November are traditionally the worst months for fires, but already this year 8,600 wildfires in the state have scorched a record 6,400 square miles (16,600 square kilometers) and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other buildings. There have been 31 deaths.

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