Southern California is seeing winter blazes sparked by winds and heat in the middle of the winter season in between the wilderness of the beach and Emerald Bay. Smoke and flames were seen all around the area in Orange County caused by the Laguna Beach fire, forcing several to evacuate as rescue and firefighting operations are being carried out.

Evacuation orders came in early Thursday morning for residents in the area as authorities navigated the Laguna Beach fire to be threatening enough to spread wider. Named the ‘Emerald Fire’, the blaze was first reported early around 4 a.m. on Thursday morning, when it had already consumed 145 acres of area.

Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said in a statement regarding the fires, “We no longer have a fire season. We have a fire year. This is supposed to be the middle of winter, and we’re anticipating 80- to 90-degree weather. Even though the hillsides are green, it doesn’t take but low humidity and wind to cause fires to occur.”

Climate scientists have been warning us of the catastrophe that awaits us in the form of rising temperatures, even during the winter season, if the climate crisis is not dealt with promptly and decisively. Fire Chief Fennessy’s statement about us living in a fire year instead of season translates that exact same fear and anxiety that seems to be part of an average American’s life now.

Fennessy added, “If this is any sign of what’s to come throughout the rest of the winter and spring, we’re in for a long year.” The mandatory evacuation order imposed on Thursday morning was lifted around the afternoon when firefighters reported 10% of the Laguna Beach fire was contained and stopped from spreading to farther areas, according to Orange County Fire Authority’s official Twitter.

Laguna Beach City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said in an online statement, “I want to thank our city team who has been working since 4:30 a.m. this morning to stop this fire in its tracks, and while we are tired we are happy with the outcome.”

Southern California is under an unseasonable winter heatwave advisory from Thursday till Sunday, as the Weather Service forecasts temperatures going up till the 80s to 90s.