US wildfires - live: Evacuations ordered in Colorado Springs as homes destroyed in California

·8-min read
US wildfires - live: Evacuations ordered in Colorado Springs as homes destroyed in California

A wildfire near Laguna Beach, California, has already destroyed 20 homes and will likely continue to ravage the region throughout the day.

The blaze — called the Coastal Fire — raged through the early morning hours on Thursday, during which time fire crews were dispatched to attempt to stop its advance.

Despite their efforts, by Thursday morning a score of homes — including five multi-million dollar mansions, one of which was listed for $10m — were left in smoldering ruins as the blaze continued to grow to around 200 acres.

The wildfire is the fueled in-part the ongoing drought conditions affecting much of the western and southwestern US. The lack of rain causes regional flora to dry out, which then creates ideal conditions to fuel wildfires.

Fires contineus to burn in New Mexico, including the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, which has spread to over 400 square miles and forced further evacuations as it spreads north. The Cerro Pelado fire, north of Albuquerque, has now put the Los Alamos National Laboratory on evacuation alert.

In Colorado Springs, officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation order for a community surrounding a grass fire that started today.

Fire crews believe the California blaze started in the Aliso Woods Canyon, which abuts one of the Laguna neighborhoods. Mandatory evacuation orders have been enacted for parts of Laguna Niguel.

20:57 , Ethan Freedman

The Coastal Fire seems to have maintained at around 200 acres today, according to a tweet from the Orange County Fire Authority

20:50 , Ethan Freedman

The sun burns through a smoky sky outside Ocate, NM as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire continues to spread (REUTERS)
The sun burns through a smoky sky outside Ocate, NM as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire continues to spread (REUTERS)

20:45 , Ethan Freedman

A helicoper douses the brush around the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel, CA (EPA)
A helicoper douses the brush around the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel, CA (EPA)

20:37 , Ethan Freedman

Firefighters battle home blazes last night in Laguna Niguel. Over 20 homes have been destroyed by a fire that started in the nearby canyon (EPA)
Firefighters battle home blazes last night in Laguna Niguel. Over 20 homes have been destroyed by a fire that started in the nearby canyon (EPA)

20:31 , Ethan Freedman

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where some research in the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II took place, is currently on evacuation watch as a result of Cerro Pelado fire north of Albuquerque

The lab is in “set” status on the “ready, set, go” system, where “go” is a mandatory evacuation order

20:24 , Ethan Freedman

As of today, an area 30 per cent larger than Rhode Island has burned across the US so far this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center

Fire season is just beginning, as conditions for burning usually start up in May and drop back down in early Autumn – but with increasing drought and the onset of the climate crisis, fire season is starting earlier

20:10 , Ethan Freedman

Fire growth is expected to continue northward in the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire over the next day, according to InciWeb

The fire, which started west of Las Vegas, New Mexico, has climbed northward over the past few weeks – pushing more and more towns into mandatory evacuations as the blaze spreads

High winds and dry vegetation, the latter promoted by ongoing drought conditions in the western US, have helped prevent the fires from being contained

20:53 , Ethan Freedman

People in Kansas City, MO on Wednesday against a sunset turned vibrant orange by smoke from the New Mexico fires drifting east (AP)
People in Kansas City, MO on Wednesday against a sunset turned vibrant orange by smoke from the New Mexico fires drifting east (AP)

20:00 , Ethan Freedman

Evacuations in Colorado Springs, surrounding a fire that broke out today

19:58 , Ethan Freedman

The Colorado Springs Fire Department in Colorado is reporting a fire as well, with evacuations ordered

17:39 , Ethan Freedman

Drought conditions have devastated California over the past few years, leading drier vegetation that can help fires spread

Currently, this part of Orange County is under “moderate drought” conditions according the US government’s drought monitor

17:28 , Ethan Freedman

Firefighters in orange work to contain the fire on Thursday, as seen from above

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

17:24 , Ethan Freedman

Airplane footage from the Coastal Fire shows the overlap of the blaze and homes near the canyon area

The fire has appeared to cross over four roads on the west side of Pacific Island Drive

17:20 , Ethan Freedman

The remains of a large home that burned, seen on Thursday (REUTERS)
The remains of a large home that burned, seen on Thursday (REUTERS)

17:03 , Ethan Freedman

California Governor Newsom has gotten money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for firefighting efforts, the governor’s office reports

17:01 , Ethan Freedman

More mandatory evacuations orders have just been put in place to the north of the communities previously under mandatory evacuation

Communities to the south previously under evacuation warning remain in the same state

16:58 , Ethan Freedman

Southern California Edison, a local utility company, has reported “circuit activity” around the time the fire started yesterday to state regulators, AP reports

16:52 , Ethan Freedman

The National Weather Service in Los Angeles is warning of increased fire conditions throughout the region over the next few days, as humidity drops and wind speeds increase

16:46 , Ethan Freedman

Satellites from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have captured the smoke pouring out of the fire last night

16:41 , Ethan Freedman

Schools in the Laguna Beach area are still open as usual today, according to the school district

16:39 , Ethan Freedman

Lisa Bartlett, an Orange County supervisor, reports that the county is working toward getting a state emergency declared

16:37 , Ethan Freedman

Captain Virgil Ascunsion from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office estimates that around 900 homes are currently under evacuation

16:35 , Ethan Freedman

McGovern adds that damage inspection teams are currently working in the area

He reports that one firefighter has been injured

16:34 , Ethan Freedman

TJ McGovern from OCFA says that crews have worked through the night and are still out this morning, with no update on containment

16:33 , Ethan Freedman

The Orange County Fire Authority is giving an update on the fire now, streaming live on Facebook

16:30 , Ethan Freedman

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire has grown to over 400 square miles – about the size of San Antonio, Texas.

The fire has been burning for weeks now, as crews have worked to protect residents living in and around the Santa Fe National Forest

15:56 , Ethan Freedman

Last night, Chief Fennessy emphasized the role of the climate crisis in creating the conditions for this fire

“We’re seeing spread in ways we haven’t before,” he said, adding that if the vegetation hadn’t been so dry, crews could likely have contained the fire to one or two acres

The fire is now around 200 acres, about the size of 150 American Football fields

15:48 , Ethan Freedman

At a press conference last night, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said that there were no known injuries, and around 20 structures destroyed

The fire department will be giving another update at 8:30 AM Pacific Time today

15:44 , Ethan Freedman

Airplane footage shows fire burning in the canyon and areas where fire crews are attempting to contain the fire

Plumes of smoke blot out the sky above Laguna Beach neighborhoods

15:31 , Graig Graziosi

Footage from Laguna Beach shows columns of smoke from the nearby Coastal Fire rising into the sky over the neighborhood.

The fire spread in the early morning hours of Thursday and now includes more than 200 acres.

Welcome to the liveblog

15:29 , Graig Graziosi

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Coastal Fire, which is tearing through the ocean-side community of Laguna Beach in southern California.

The fire has grown to 200 acres as responders battle strong ocean winds and drought conditions to get a handle on the fire.

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