A wildfire blazed through the Southern California canyons late Thursday, forcing residents to abandon homes.

Winds have been pushing the flames from Orange County's Silverado Canyons since Wednesday and made it one of the largest fires to hit California this year.

The fire began as a house fire but gusts of up to 113 kilometers an hour spread the flames. It eventually engulfed more than 29 square kilometers and blanketed an ever wider area with smoke and ash.

"When crews arrived it was a fully engulfed house and the winds were extremely strong and they pushed flames into the vegetation," fire officials said.

The Santa Ana winds helped the flames cross major roads and firefighters struggled to control it. The rough and steep terrain in the area also hurt.

Fire chief Brian Fennessy said two firefighters were sent to the hospital after sustaining injuries. Fennessy didn't know how many homes had been destroyed.

Some weather experts and scientists have linked fires in the U.S. to climate change. Studies have shown that the continued burning of coal, gas and oil have made the weather in California much drier and made vegetation much more flammable.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for possible fires this week. The agency said that the low humidity, the Santa Ana winds and dry brush could result in potential wildfires.

Southern California utility providers decided to cut power to tens of thousands of customers in the area as a precaution. In the past, the strong winds in the area had knocked down power lines and blown tree limbs into electric equipment, resulting in wildfires.