Firefighters move in on Southern California canyon blaze, aided by easing winds

Dan Whitcomb and Gabriella Borter
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: The Bond Fire wildfire continues to burn next to electrical power lines near Modjeska Canyon, California

By Dan Whitcomb and Gabriella Borter

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate.

The Bond Fire, which was about 10% contained on Friday afternoon, broke out around on Wednesday night on the road for which it is named and quickly engulfed much of Silverado Canyon, egged on by strong Santa Ana winds.

"Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing hot spots, mopping up around structures and stopping the forward spread of this fire," Captain Paul Holaday of Orange County Fire Authority said in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.

Air and ground units were focused on protecting the canyon communities of Silverado, Santiago, Williams and Modjesca on Friday, Holaday said.

Two firefighters who had been hospitalized with injuries on Thursday were released from the hospital and were "doing okay," the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter on Friday.

The National Weather Service issued red flag warning for gusty winds in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday for the inland portion of Orange County, where officials said the Bond Fire had charred some 6,400 acres. Winds were expected to decrease through the weekend.

As many as 25,000 people had been forced to flee the blaze but by Friday morning officials had lifted some evacuation orders, including those for the community of Lake Forest.

The Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter that the blaze started as a structure fire in Silverado Canyon on Bond Road that "fully engulfed a home." Strong winds then droves the flames into nearby vegetation, officials said.

Residents have said that the flames erupted when a home generator exploded.

Since the start of the year, wildfires have scorched more than 6,500 square miles (17,000 square km) of California land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The yearly land area burned in the western United States has grown eight times larger in less than four decades, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station said in research published last month.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and Alistair Bell)