Around 100,000 people in southern California in the US have been given evacuation orders as wildfires flare yet again in the state.
The fire is in the Silverado canyon in Orange County and has been threatening 20,000 homes in the city of Irvine, which is around 65km from the heart of Los Angeles.
According to firefighters, the blaze started on Monday and has continued to grow in size, fanned by strong wind gusts and fuelled by dry brush.
Aircraft are unable to deploy
The winds have been so strong that firefighting aircraft have been unable to deploy to drop water and retardant onto the flames.
One of the theories is that electrical equipment used by Southern California Edison, a power utility, could have sparked the blaze.
About 500 firefighters have been deployed to fight the flames and the Orange County Fire Authority reported that two of its personnel were critically injured, suffering second- and third-degree burns over more than 50% of their bodies.
It’s a very hazardous job
“It’s one of the hardest things any fire chief can do, to report that one of their firefighter family members has been injured or worse,” said fire chief Brian Fennessy.
“This is tough for me, tough for all my firefighters and certainly tough for the families of my two injured firefighters.”
Fennessy said the fire was proving difficult to fight. We’re experiencing very high winds [and] very low humidities. Our firefighters are some of the bravest in the world. This is a very hazardous job.”
Climate change the cause
Experts say that climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.
Usually October and November are the worst months for fires, but already this year the state has seen more than 8,600 wildfires that have scorched a record 16,576 sq km and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other structures. There have been 31 deaths to date.
Los Angeles County officials have been urging residents to sign up for emergency notifications and to be ready to evacuate to less risky areas.