Thousands Flee Homes As Bond Fire Spreads Through Southern California

Friday, December 4th 2020, 8:16 am
By: CBS News

Sheer panic engulfed Silverado Canyon as thousands of residents raced to escape an out-of-control wildfire. Some who fled took their ranch animals with them.

Powerful winds pushed the flames from the Bond Fire in all directions, scorching an area larger than 3,000 football fields overnight. Flames reached 50-60 feet high, driven by dry vegetation and high wind gusts up to 70 mph.

The blaze was sparked by a house fire late Wednesday, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The fire quickly spread into the brush and then exploded into a wildfire, CBS Los Angeles reported. The house fire is under investigation.

About 500 firefighters are battling the flames in what has been a historic wildfire season for the state of California. More than 4 million acres have burned so far. Two firefighters were hospitalized with injuries Thursday afternoon, CBS LA reported. The extend of the injuries are unknown. 

At one point, the strong winds forced crews to stop making airdrops. The fire was zero percent contained by Thursday afternoon. 

Doug Sweney has lived through many fires, but none like this. "After being up here for 30 years I've seen a little bit, but this is definitely the most it's come down the hill," Sweney said. 

Some residents told CBS LA that because the power had been shut off as a precaution against downed power lines, they had little to no cellphone service and did not receive any evacuation alerts.

"I heard screams, like, 'fire, fire, it's right here so we have to leave right now,'" resident Jerry van Wolfgang said. "I looked out the window and it was already so big."

Officials said the red flag warnings continue through Saturday. 

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.