A fast-moving, wind-driven brush fire Monday destroyed at least 24 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents while scorching about 6,000 acres after breaking out in Anaheim Hills.
About 1,000 firefighters battled the flames amid dry, gusty conditions that prompted fire warnings across the region.
One firefighter sustained a minor smoke-inhalation injury, authorities said.
The fire erupted about a mile from the area scorched by the recent Canyon Fire that blackened more than 2,600 acres and took more than a week to contain.
Initially reported at 25 acres, the latest blaze — dubbed Canyon Fire 2 — exploded across about 500 acres by midday, then across 4,000 to beyond 5,000 acres by late afternoon, fire officials said.
By Monday night it was only 5 percent contained. Three helicopters — supplied by the Orange County Fire Authority, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service — were scheduled to make overnight water drops, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Orange County late Monday, freeing up state resources to help with battling the fire.
Smoke from the blaze could be seen for miles in all directions, prompting warnings from health officials for people to remain indoors.
Schools from South Los Angeles to Corona to Long Beach took precautions to protect students, primarily by keeping them inside, as sunny skies gave way to smoke-fueled gloom. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for a wide swath of Orange County and southern Los Angeles County.
The full extent of damage and the size of the fire would probably not be clear until after dawn Tuesday, Concialdi said.
The fire initially broke out near the Riverside (91) Freeway east of Gypsum Canyon Road, near the Coal Canyon flashpoint of September’s Canyon Fire, according to the OCFA.
But while last month’s Canyon Fire burned east, winds whipping at about 25 mph pushed its sequel to the west on Monday, prompting mandatory evacuation orders for residents south of the Riverside Freeway and west of the 241 toll road. The evacuation area was repeatedly expanded. An information hotline was set up at (714) 765-4333.
Officials in the neighboring city of Orange issued evacuation orders for all residents north of Santiago Canyon road to the city border with Anaheim. That order was later extended south to Chapman Avenue, then south again into the Santiago Hills area as far south as Canyon View Avenue.
The Tustin Ranch area was also evacuated.
Anaheim fire officials said late Monday afternoon that as many as 5,000 homes were being threatened by the fire. It was unclear how long the evacuation orders would be in place, but officials said no evacuated residents would be allowed to return to their homes Monday night.
The 241 was closed in both directions between the 91 Freeway and Chapman Avenue/Santiago Canyon Road. The Gypsum Canyon Road off-ramps were also closed on the 91.
— City News Service
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