Silverado Fire: California blaze forces 60,000 people to evacuate their homes

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As many as 60,000 people are being forced to flee their homes as a fast-moving brush fire raged through a large swath of Southern California early Monday, according to officials and news reports.

The Silverado Fire flared up around 6:45 a.m. local time near the city of Irvine and has burned through 2,000 acres, prompting officials to declare a mandatory evacuation around 9 a.m., the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter.

“The fire started in Silverado Canyon, and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are on the way,” Irvine Mayor Christina Shea said on the city website. “The wind is making it move very quickly.”

The flames shut down California’s 241 Highway, the city announced.

Video footage posted on Twitter by the fire authority shows the fire raging inside a thick cloud of black smoke as winds gust.

The flames initially consumed 10 acres at Santiago Canyon but spread across 2,000 within three hours aided by winds gusting up to 84 miles per hour that pushed the blaze closer to homes in the area, KTLA-TV reported.

Officials said classes remain in session in the Irvine Unified School District, with students being kept indoors but are not presently expected to be evacuated, the station said.

California has been plagued by massive wildfires for months, with more than 8,500 blazes throughout the state scorching more than 6,000 square miles of land and destroying more than 9,000 buildings since the start of the year.

State fire officials attribute the record-setting number of fires to hotter temperatures and dry weather conditions.

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