New wildfires have spread and engulfed several houses, threatening other homes nearby in San Bernardino, Southern California, CNN reported citing officials.
Residents awoke to be rushed into evacuation as the fires are racing from hillsides into neighborhoods.
The Hillside Fire — which started sometime after midnight in vegetation above San Bernardino — quickly consumed about 200 acres, officials said, and is one of at least 10 active wildfires in a state plagued by them in recent weeks. Strong winds Thursday threaten to stoke the flames further.
With winds stronger than 50 mph expected in some areas, more than 17 million people in Southern California are under red flag warnings — meaning wind, humidity and other conditions are ripe for fires.
At least two homes were ablaze in northern San Bernardino well before dawn on Thursday. Hundreds of firefighters were there, trying to contain the flames, and firefighting aircraft were expected to join as soon as the sun rose, San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Chris Prater said.
The fire was a few miles away from Cal State San Bernardino, which was closed Thursday because the regional utility intentionally cut power as a precaution, hoping to prevent fires in the red-flag conditions. The campus lost power at 3:20 a.m. Thursday.
Evacuations have been ordered for about 490 homes in northern San Bernardino, accounting for about 1,300 people, the county fire department said. Just to the southeast, firefighters also were battling a blaze that erupted Thursday morning in Riverside County’s Jurupa Valley, prompting evacuations. With county fire officials reporting three homes there destroyed, workers at a pet adoption center prepared evacuations as flames licked nearby brush, an employee told CNN affiliate KTLA.