A fast-moving, wind-whipped wildfire left two firefighters critically injured and forced more than 90,000 residents in Southern California to evacuate Monday, while huge swaths of the Golden State went without power in an effort to prevent more flames, officials said.
The firefighters, 26 and 31, were injured while battling the Silverado Fire, which had charred at least 7,200 acres in and around the community of Irvine, southeast of Los Angeles, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said.
The firefighters — two of about 500 trying to contain the out-of-control blaze — suffered second- and third-degree burns across 65 percent and 50 percent of their bodies, the authority said. Both were intubated.
Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said the incident was under investigation. He said that powerful winds had kept aircraft from dropping retardant and water on the blaze, making ground crew firefighters like the two who were injured critical to extinguishing the flames.
“This is a tough fire, where we’re experiencing very high winds, very low humidities,” he said. “Our firefighters are some of the bravest, if not the bravest in the world.”