The fire, which was dubbed the Canyon Fire, is burning in an area that straddles Orange and Riverside counties. The quick-moving blaze originated about 1 p.m. Monday near the eastbound 91 Freeway at Coal Canyon Road.
There were no reports of injuries in the fire, which damaged one home and destroyed the trailer of a semi-truck, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency Tuesday for the Canyon Fire, which increases state and federal assistance in the firefight.
Board of Supes declares local emergency from Canyon Fire. Increases state/federal assistance on fighting the fire.— Raymond Smith (@RivCoInfo) September 26, 2017
About 1,500 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders. Some were unsure if their homes would still be standing when they return.
One Corona resident, James Owen, thought he was going to lose his home as flames came dangerously close. At one point, the flames were lapping at his fence in the backyard.
"My heart was racing. I mean it wasn't something you would expect," he said. "All of a sudden you see a stream of water pouring in...there was a fire truck in the driveway."
Firefighters were able to stop the spread of the blaze and save not just Owen's home, but dozens of other homes in the neighborhoods. There were fire trucks in almost every driveway to protect the houses.
"All of a sudden there was fire right in front of my face, as I was evacuating," James Kim said. "I don't know what happened to my house or anything."
Facebook activated its "safety check" feature for users in the vicinity of the fire as a way to "check on friends or mark yourself safe," according to the social media platform.
About 1,650 firefighters were at the scene, attacking the wind-driven flames with hoses on the ground and water-drops from fixed-wing aircraft overhead. A unified command was composed of the Anaheim, Corona, and Los Angeles County fire departments, the OCFA, U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire.
VIDEO: Surveillance video shows Canyon Fire dangerously close to Corona home
Evacuation orders were in place for multiple streets in Corona: Dominguez Ranch, San Alamada Road, San Ponte Road, San Viscaya Circle, San Sebastian Circle, San Ramon, San Alvarado, Mt. Elena Circle, Mt. Tesoro, Mt. Palmas and Mt. Cantara.
Resident Jeff Peterson said he saw "little mini tornadoes of embers going through the neighborhood -- and I'm not exactly dressed like a firefighter out here, so it was time to go."
Current Evacuation Location: pic.twitter.com/UmyxhWBiXV— Corona Fire Dept (@CoronaFireDept) September 26, 2017
Corona High School, at 1150 W. 10th St, was serving as a shelter for displaced residents.
Dominguez Ranch Road in Corona was closed to incoming traffic at Green River Road. By 7 p.m. Monday, evacuation orders were expanded to areas south of Green River Road from the 91 Freeway to Trudy Lane at Orchard Glen.
According to the Corona Fire Department, seven schools will be closed Wednesday due to the blaze. Those schools are: Coronita Elementary School, John Adams Elementary School, Cesar Chavez Academy, Prado View Elementary School, Eisenhower Elementary School, Citrus Hills Intermediate School and Franklin Elementary School.
The cause of the fire was unknown.