CORONA, Calif. — A wildfire in Southern California had surged to more than two square miles Monday night, forcing the evacuation of about 1,000 people from suburban canyon homes and spurring the shutdown of two lanes of a major freeway.
The blaze began about 1 p.m. in Corona along the Riverside and Orange county lines, where two eastbound lanes of State Route 91 were closed and commuters were facing serious traffic backups.
Corona fire officials have called for evacuations of about 1,000 residents of an estimated 300 homes. The blaze is also burning into the cities of Anaheim and Chino Hills, authorities said.
Intense flames could be seen creeping down hills and burning at the edges of several neighborhoods where ashes were raining down. There were no immediate reports of damage to homes.
Cora Angeles, 66, prayed and cried as she sat in a park car after frantically fleeing from the flames that raged toward her home. She was able to leave with only important documents, clothes and her 12-year-old granddaughter.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Angeles told the Los Angeles Times. “At least we know we’re going to be alive.”
Aerial shots from news helicopters showed a large building that looked like a warehouse that was fully engulfed in flames, but it wasn’t immediately clear what it was.
A huge plume of smoke could be seen over much of Orange County, including Angel Stadium in Anaheim, where a large crowd was watching the Angels play the Chicago White Sox.
Conditions were favorable for the overnight firefight, with temperatures dipping into the 60s and humidity above 20 percent.