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.
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.
On Monday, flames driven by Santa Ana winds rapidly moved west toward homes in Anaheim.
By 6 p.m., the fire had exploded in size to between 4,500 and 5,000 acres, or more than 7 square miles. Containment was 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.
At least six structures have burned in Anaheim, Wyatt said, emphasizing the number was not exact and they didn't yet "know for sure."