The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) said that mandatory evacuations were issued in the Irvine area due to the Silverado Fire. The blaze started around 6:47 a.m in the area of Santiago Canyon Road and was reported to be around 10 acres, according to the city of Irvine.
As of Monday evening, more than 7,200 had burned with 500 firefighters responding to the blaze.
"The fire started in Silverado Canyon, and helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are on the way," Irvine Mayor Christina Shea said in a news release. "The wind is making it move very quickly."
In a matter of hours, the blaze exploded to at least 2,000 acres, Cal Fire said.
The OCFA said that approximately 60,000 people were initially evacuating the Irvine area, and that flames jumped the 241 Freeway. Two Orange County Fire Authority firefighters were critically injured and were being treated, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol announced there are closures on area roadways due to the blaze.
The smoky fire in Orange County has quickly threatened neighborhoods in Irvine, a sprawling city of about 280,000 people.
“Structures are threatened,” OCFA said just before 9 a.m.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for residents in the Orchard Hills community on Irvine Boulevard from Jamboree to Bake Parkway.
Kelsey Brewer and her three roommates said they decided to leave their townhouse before the evacuation order came in. Due to the pandemic, they decided to go to the home of her girlfriend’s mother, who has ample space and lives alone.
“We literally talked about it this morning,” Brewer told the Associated Press. “We can only imagine how screwed everyone else feels. There’s nowhere you can go to feel safe.”
Another blaze ignited and spread to more than 1,100 acres, authorities said. The Blue Ridge Fire triggered mandatory evacuations in Yorba Linda.
It’s not clear what started the Silverado Fire.
The blaze was expected to continue growing rapidly due to a Santa Ana wind event that's currently bringing gusty winds to Southern California as the region faces dry conditions that allow for rapid fire spread.
On Monday morning, winds were gusting 50-55 mph in the area, FOX11 reported.
The National Weather Service warned residents between Tustin and Foothill Ranch areas to “stay vigilant.”
The fire danger is critical to extreme from California to the Southwest with dry conditions, warm temperatures, and gusty winds through the next few days.
Santa Ana winds will affect Southern California, with winds that could also cause downed trees and power outages.
The winds are associated with the blast of arctic air bringing the snow to the nation's midsection. Widespread wind and red flag warnings are in place.
Critical conditions are also expected across Northern California, with fire danger lasting through Tuesday. The nation's largest utility has cut power to over 361,000 customers in that region to prevent wildfires from being started by electrical equipment that has been damaged in the winds.
Elsewhere in the state, a vegetation fire broke out in Solano County. Firefighters from Travis Air Force Base were assisting the Suisun City Fire Department, base officials said in a Fcaebook post.
The fire is outside the Travis AFB South Gate near Highway 12, according to the post.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.