The “coast fire,” as it was called, began Wednesday afternoon in the hills bordering the Pacific Ocean, about 80 kilometers south of Los Angeles.
Pictures on social networking sites show the rapid progress of the fire, which devoured the palaces and plants on the hills, as well as thick plumes of smoke.
Driven by winds from the Pacific Ocean, the flames advanced over 80 hectares of vegetation. Nearly 1,000 homes in a multi-million dollar residential area had to be vacated.
The size of the homes also contributed to the spread of the fire, Orange County employee Lisa Bartlett said. “When you look at the size of the houses, there’s a lot of combustible material that burns quickly, so the winds ignite the flames that spread from house to house,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
The spread of the fire shows that because of the severe drought, the area is prone to wildfires year-round, not just in the so-called fire season, said Brian Venety, Orange County Fire Chief.
The same has happened across much of the western United States, “It’s sad to say we’re so used to it,” he said. “The winds are normal. What we’re seeing is a spread that we haven’t seen before. The fire is spreading fast in this very dry vegetation.”
The cause of the fire remains unknown, but the local Southern California Edison electric company reported “circuit activity” to regional authorities at the same time the fire was reported.
Although fires are common in the American West, fires are intensifying due to human-caused global warming and fossil energy consumption, exacerbating chronic drought.
The average summer temperature in California, on the country’s west coast, is 1.6 degrees Celsius higher than that recorded at the end of the 19th century.
“Hardcore alcohol maven. Hipster-friendly analyst. Introvert. Devoted social media advocate.”