Scant progress against two new California wildfires

Firefighters in Southern California on Tuesday made little headway against two explosive, wind-whipped wildfires that forced the evacuations of tens of thousands of residents and badly injured two crew members on the front lines.

Howling Santa Ana winds, blowing hot, dry air from the desert, had put much of the fire-ravaged state under red-flag warnings and helped quickly spread two blazes in Orange County that erupted on Monday.

More than 750 firefighters using 14 helicopters managed to contain only 5% of the Silverado fire, which grew overnight to over 11,000 acres, the Orange County Fire Authority said. Two firefighters were critically injured fighting that blaze, which may have been started by equipment owned by Southern California Edison, the utility company said.

The second Orange County blaze, the Blueridge fire, later broke out near Yorba Linda and has charred roughly 8,000 acres and damaged 10 homes?, according to officials.

While winds were likely to remain strong Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicted they would abate by evening.

California Governor Gavin Newsom: “Broadly we will experience a reduction in the winds between now and Thursday, but the most extreme wind events, we believe, will present themselves later today in the evening and hopefully are behind us….Some 42 wildfires had ignited in the last 24 hours. It’s an extraordinary testament to Cal Fire that you don’t know about most of those.”

Wildfires this year have ravaged California, scorching more than 6,400 square miles - equivalent to the land mass of the state of Hawaii.