California Wildfires Create Real-Life 'Highway to Hell' in Video

'Nothing like coming home to see your hills on fire.'

Ryan Penhall/Giphy

The massive fire raging in the Santa Ana Mountains of California has blazed through 2,000 acres around the Anaheim-Corona border and is still going strong. As flames covered the hills Monday and Tuesday night, terrified motorists caught a first-hand, dramatic look at the fire, which threatens 1,900 homes.

One video, shot by competitive motorcyclist Ryan Penhall, is particularly breathtaking in its scope, revealing a scene that looks more like it belongs in a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie about racing cars in hell than in real life.

Penhall uploaded the clip onto his Instagram on Tuesday with the caption “Nothing like coming home to see your hills on fire.”

"Nothing like coming home to see your hills on fire."

Ryan Penhall/Instragram

Other motorists captured the terrifying moment as well, recording footage on the few lanes that were still open to traffic. The flames viewed here are likely very hot: Under extreme conditions, wildfires can reach flame heights of 50 meters, and flame temperatures can exceed 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Orange County Fire Authority announced in a statement Wednesday that some streets had been reopened to drivers with valid IDs. As of Wednesday, 20 percent of the fire had been contained, and the 1,500 evacuated residents are waiting for word that it’s safe to return. Many of these residents fled by car on the 91 Freeway, which itself has been surrounded by flames.

“Firefighters continue to defend homes and build containment line in a steep, heavily vegetated area,” reads the statement. “Fire activity has slowed due to aggressive ground and aerial firefighting efforts and more favorable weather conditions.”

Corona is a naturally temperate region of California and is home to over 570 native plants, including big berry manzanita and coast live oak trees. In 2015, it was the site of another large wildfire, which was particularly aggressive because of the ongoing drought.

Big berry manzanita trees are one of the 570+ plants native to California that are threatened by wildfire.


The cause of the current wildfire is still under investigation, but winds with gusts of 25 miles per hour have been pinpointed as the reason it’s been able to grow so rapidly. Only three conditions are really needed for a wildfire to emerge: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source.

Fortunately, the canyon fire has not resulted in any injuries and has only damaged three structures. Authorities haven’t released any statements on when the fire is expected to be contained, but wildfires can sometimes persist for several weeks.

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