Oliver Knight/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — An apocalyptic scene is emerging in Southern California after fast-moving wildfires broke out overnight, leaving two dead, destroying homes and forcing residents to flee.
The infernos are closing some schools and even crippling Los Angeles freeways, leaving frantic drivers in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The Saddleridge fire has engulfed over 7,500 acres in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles, and was 13% contained as of Friday afternoon.
It erupted at about 9 p.m. Thursday and moved at 800 acres per hour, officials said.
A cause has not been determined.
The LAPD said 23,000 homes and 100,000 people are impacted by mandatory evacuation orders.
With roadways blocked, some residents fled their homes on foot at 3 a.m.
The Saddleridge fire has caused at least one death. A man died when he had a heart attack while trying to fight the fire himself, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff.
The blaze is unpredictable, LAPD Chief Michel Moore warned, and he urged those in evacuation areas to follow orders to leave. Residents will not be allowed back in until it is safe, he said.
A second person has died from a different blaze, the Sandalwood fire, which is burning in Riverside County, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.
The Sandalwood fire has burned over 800 acres and is 10% contained.
It’s forced over 500 to evacuate and has destroyed dozens of structures, officials said.
The Sandalwood fire started when a garbage truck caught fire and got in contact with nearby vegetation, officials said. Investigators are working to determine if there is any criminal culpability, officials said.
Those are just two of seven fires are burning in the Golden State Friday. Five of the seven are in Southern California, fueled by gusty winds blowing through the region.
Wind gusts reached 60 mph in Los Angeles County and 70 mph in San Bernardino County Friday morning.
Red Flag Warnings have been extended through Saturday evening for large parts of Southern California.
In Los Angeles, residents need to be prepared for the weather conditions to last through Sunday, Moore said.
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