Bloomberg] A wildfire with a ferocity never seen before by veteran California firefighters raced up and down canyons, instantly engulfing homes and forcing thousands of people to flee, some running for their lives just ahead of the flames.
By Wednesday, a day after it ignited in brush left bone dry by years
of drought, the blaze had spread across nearly 47 square miles and was
raging out of control. The flames advanced despite the efforts of 1,300
Authorities could not immediately say how many homes had been destroyed, but they warned that the number will be large.
"There will be a lot of families that come home to nothing," San
Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said after flying over a fire
scene he described as "devastating."
"It hit hard. It hit fast. It hit with an intensity that we hadn't seen before," he said.
No deaths were reported, but cadaver dogs were searching the ruins for anyone who was overrun by the flames.
The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known.
Five years of drought have turned the state's wildlands into a tinder
box, with eight fires currently burning from Shasta County in the far
north to Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego.
"In my 40 years of fighting fire, I've never seen fire behavior so
extreme," Incident Commander Mike Wakoski said a day after the latest
blaze broke out Tuesday in Cajon Pass, a critical highway and rail
corridor through mountain ranges that separate Southern California's
major population centers from the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas.
Residents like Vi Delgado and her daughter April Christy, who had
been through a major brushfire years before, said they had never seen
anything like it either. Read More