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More than 100,000 flee Southern California wildfires under evacuation orders

TOPSHOT - Firefighters look out over a burning hillside as they fight the Blue Ridge Fire in Yorba Linda, California, October 26, 2020. - Some 60,000 people fled their homes near Los Angeles on October 26 as a fast-spreading wildfire raged across more than 7,200 acres (3,000 hectares), blocking key roadways and critically injuring two firefighters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — More than 100,000 people are under mandatory evacuation orders from the wildfires in Southern California, where two fires are burning out of control.

As Ed Pascasio fled from the Silverado Fire Monday afternoon with his wife, niece and sister-in-law, he watched embers flying toward their neighborhood.

“The sky was orange, kind of like doomsday,” he said. “I’ve never seen it change dramatically that fast.”

The Silverado Fire and Blue Ridge Fire are both burning in Orange County, California, and have quickly grown to scorch more than 10,000 acres collectively. The Silverado Fire quadrupled in size Monday.

The cars packed on main roads — filled with fleeing residents — resembled a movie scene, Pascasio said.

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“A lot of neighbors were leaving at the same time. Everyone was shocked by the speed of it all,” he said.

This has been a devastating year for fires. At least 8,000 fire incidents reported by Cal Fire have burned a record 4 million acres and claimed the lives of 31 people this year so far. And dry, windy conditions have prompted power shutoffs to prevent more.

Southern California Edison said a power line may have played a role in igniting the Silverado Fire, which has burned 7,200 acres near Irvine, according to a report filed with California Public Utilities Commission.

The initial safety incident report describes overhead electrical facilities in the area where authorities think the fire started but notes no activity on the circuit.

“…(It) appears that a lashing wire attached to a telecommunications line may have contacted SCE’s power line above it, possibly starting the fire,” SCE spokesman Chris Abel told CNN.

Between the fires roaring in Southern California and dry, windy conditions prompting red flag warnings in Northern California, power companies have enacted Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).

Nearly 320,000 customers were without power Monday evening, according to PowerOutage.US.

The bulk of the customers are managed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for Northern California and Southern California Edison.

Two firefighters suffer burns

Fire officials said 700 people are battling the two fires, and on Monday two of them were critically injured.

The men suffered second- and third-degree burns while battling the Silverado Fire near Irvine, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy told reporters.

Fennessy visited the injured firefighters in the emergency room, but was unable to talk with the firefighters, as each is intubated.

“Our firefighters are some of the bravest in the world. This is a very hazardous job,” Fennessy said.

The men, ages 26 and 31, are part of Orange County Fire Authority’s ground crew. Their names haven’t been released. The team uses hand tools to stop wildfire flames from progressing, much like hotshots.

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