ANAHEIM, Calif. - Thousands of Orange County residents have been evacuated from their homes after a wind-whipped brush fire wreaked havoc and destroyed or damaged an unknown number of houses in Anaheim Hills Monday.
By 9 p.m., the fire had exploded in size to about 6,000 acres, or more than 9 square miles and officials said 24 structures were destroyed with at least another 5,000 threatened.
The Canyon Fire 2 broke out about 9:54 a.m. in the area of Coal Canyon on the 91 Freeway, near the same location where another fire started two weeks earlier. That earlier fire spread east toward homes in Corona.
Flames driven by Santa Ana winds rapidly moved west toward homes in Anaheim throughout the day.
Continuing Coverage: California Wildfires
Earlier, around 6 p.m., containment was still at 0 percent as the blaze spread into the neighboring city of Orange and toward Tustin.
“That’s our best estimate, understanding this is a very dynamic situation,” said Steven Beach, a division chief with Cal Fire in Riverside, which is part of unified command. “Our priority remains public life safety.”
About 3,000 to 4,000 residents have been impacted by the blaze, authorities said at a late afternoon news conference. About 5,000 homes are threatened in Anaheim, Tustin and Orange.
“We’ve got winds out here gusting up to 45 mph, and that’s what driving this fire. It’s been an extreme rate of spread,” said Sgt. Daron Wyatt with the Anaheim police and fire departments.
Crews are “at the mercy of the wind,” Wyatt said.
Homes just southwest of the interchange of the 241 and 91 freeways appeared to be most threatened at first, aerial video from Sky5 showed. Fox Hollow Drive, Cedar Point Drive, Garden View Drive, Canyon Heights Drive were in the fire’s path as blaze made its way up the hill from the 241.