(CNN) – A violent forest fire forced the evacuation of hundreds of people after it exploded to thousands of hectares in northern California, authorities said.
The Kincade fire, which ignited on Wednesday night, has burned 2,832 hectares (7,000 acres), said the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. It started at 9 pm (midnight ET) and grew to thousands of hectares in three hours, said Sgt. Juan Valencia.
While the fire burned, gusts of wind of up to 122 kms / h occurred, said the National Weather Service.RELATED
More than 550 homes, which contain approximately 1,700 residents, are under mandatory evacuation orders as the fire burns uncontrollably, Sonoma County said. Additional evacuations could be issued as the fire grows, authorities said.
In addition to hundreds of homes, River Rock Casino has been asked to evacuate, along with other areas east of Geyserville, the sheriff's office said.
The fire broke out the same day that the largest utility company in California began another round of intentional power outages to prevent its equipment from causing forest fires.
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The last blackouts began on Wednesday and will affect parts of 17 counties that include the Sonoma wine region at least until Thursday afternoon.
There are red flag warnings for more than 25 million people in northern and southern California, which means that high temperatures, low humidity and high winds will increase fire hazards.