Hundreds Of Homes Evacuated In Southern Calif. As Fast-Moving Brush Fire Creeps Into Backyards

Sunday, March 11th 2007, 3:08 pm
By: News On 6

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ A fast-moving brush fire scorched 1,000 acres of parched hillside and charred at least two homes Sunday, forcing authorities to evacuate more than 200 homes, Orange County fire officials said.

The nearly 2 square mile fire threatened many other houses and the firefighters working to protect them, Anaheim city spokesman John J. Nicoletti said.

``This is a very dangerous firefight,'' said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Ed Fleming. ``The terrain is quite rugged, with homes on top of ridges, and the fire picks up speed as it head up the hill.''

No injuries have been reported, Nicoletti said.

The fire, stoked by hot dry winds and fueled by chaparral, spread south and west quickly in an unincorporated part of Orange County and threatened multimillion dollar homes here and in Anaheim Hills, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Authorities said the blaze may have been started by a vehicle fire.

Capt. Steve Miller of the Orange County Fire Authority said winds blowing up to 35 mph were making firefighting difficult for the more than 400 firefighters on the scene. Temperatures were in the 90s and humidity was at 5 percent.

Firefighters were aided by helicopters and planes dropping water and retardant on the flames, and police went door to door to warn residents to evacuate.

``We are holding our own, but the fire is going to continue to make progress as long as fuel is in its way. It's not a good situation for us,'' Miller said.

The area, like much of Southern California, is under a red flag alert, indicating a high fire danger. A prolonged drought has left the chaparral-covered hills highly combustible.

Fleeing fires has become a part of life for many residents.

Susan Snell, who has lived in Anaheim Hills for 23 years, followed a well-worn routine Sunday: She put her cat in a carrier, packed tax and insurance papers and photographs and found a good vantage point.

``It's freaky what you end up taking with you,'' she said as she watched television at the Anaheim Hills Community Center for updates.