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A brush fire fueled by strong winds broke out in the morning of Monday October 26 in the Los Angeles area, causing the evacuation of some 60,000 residents of the city of Irvine, while California is placed on fire alert.
The fire, dubbed "Silverado Fire", started around 6:45 am local time in the Irvine hills (about 60 km to the south east of Los Angeles) and had already covered nearly 3,000 hectares by late afternoon, an area that almost quadrupled in the space of a few hours, firefighters said.
Two firefighters were injured in the flames and hospitalized in serious condition, with burns on half of their bodies, according to local media.
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The strong wind blowing over the area, with peaks of over 100 km / h, not only fuels the flames, but also prevents the intervention of aerial means of firefighting.
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As a precaution, the Irvine authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 60,000 inhabitants living in potentially threatened neighborhoods by the flames. All schools in the Irvine district, where the sky was obscured by thick clouds of smoke according to witnesses, were also evacuated and will remain closed on Tuesday.
"It was crazy. Even in the car, eyes, nose and throat stung. It looked like night had fallen, ”Frédéric Tournadre, a French expatriate whose company is based in Irvine, told AFP.
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Several highways had to be cut due to the rapid progression of the flames, without hindering evacuations.
Weather services have placed a large area around Los Angeles on red fire alert until Tuesday afternoon due to strong and very dry winds that have started to blow.
The phenomenon is typical for this time of year but this episode is particularly strong and brings together "the most dangerous conditions for fires that we have seen since October 2019", specifies the California police, when the flames had caused evacuations at the gates of Los Angeles, threatening in particular the famous Getty museum.
In the grip of a chronic drought exacerbated by climate change, the western United States has suffered from wildfires of exceptional magnitude this year, with 31 dead and nearly 17,000 km² gone up in smoke in California since the start of the season.
Some of the giant fires that broke out in the northern part of the state last August were still not fully contained on Monday.
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