Multiple New Fires Spark Across Southern California As Orange County Blaze Spreads Freely, Overwhelming Local Resources; 5 Firefighters Injured; Power Lines Again Suspect In Ignition

Multiple New Fires Spark Across Southern California As Orange County Blaze Spreads Freely, Overwhelming Local Resources; 5 Firefighters Injured; Power Lines Again Suspect In Ignition

It seemed like fires popped up everywhere in Southern California on Tuesday: Topanga, Glendale, Acton, Riverside, San Diego. Most of them were quickly extinguished, but the each one likely rattled nerves of local residents who have been looking at images of the bigger fires that sparked Monday in Orange County.


The larger of the two Monday fires had been the Silverado Fire near Irvine, but overnight and through Tuesday the Blue Ridge Fire near Yorba Linda grew much more rapidly.


The wind-driven Blue Ridge Fire broke out on the west end of Corona in Riverside County and quickly spread into Orange County. It was reported at 200 acres just after ignition on Monday afternoon. By nightfall, it had consumed 1,120 acres and was 0% contained. It threatened homes in Yorba Linda and had exploded to 15,200 acres with 0% containment by dark on Tuesday.

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Initially called the Green Fire and later renamed the Blue Ridge Fire, the blaze was reported at 12:55 p.m. Monday adjacent to the Green River Golf Club, just off of Green River Road and the Riverside (91) Freeway, according to the Corona Fire Department.


Ten homes were damaged in the blaze, but the location and extent of damage were not immediately available, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze.


A video posted to Twitter in the early afternoon by ABC7 Inland Empire Bureau Chief Rob McMillan showed the 71 freeway east of Chino Hills had been closed in both directions after the eastern edge of the blaze jumped the highway. McMillan later reported that firefighters said flames on the east side of the 71 had been extinguished, but could not confirm that.


Evacuations had been ordered in 5,958 homes in Chino Hills and 2,500 homes in Yorba Linda. In Brea, 276 homes were ordered evacuated, 680 homes voluntarily evacuated and no homes were damaged there, officials said.


Unlike Monday, firefighters on the ground got help from helicopter water drops on Tuesday as the intense winds lessened, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen said.


Firefighters are not concerned that the blaze will merge with the Silverado Fire to the south, according to Nguyen.


More than 70,000 Orange County residents have been forced to flee the Silverado Fire. The conflagration, which started near the canyon of the same name, had blown up from 4,000 acres midday to 7,200 acres by nightfall on Monday. The wind-whipped blaze severely injured two firefighters and was only 5% contained today.


By Tuesday afternoon, the Silverado Fire had blackened 12,600 acres with another 9,500 people evacuated in Lake Forest, according to the Orange County Fire Authority and Lake Forest officials. More than 750 firefighters have been deployed to battle the flames, and on Tuesday they began receiving assistance from 14 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, OCFA Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said.


By Tuesday evening, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection would take command of the Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires, according to Fennessy.

“We’ve got very capable incident management team staff here in Orange County and if we had the benefit of managing just one large fire we’d be fine, but when you have to manage two large fires … quite frankly, the complexity gets beyond our local capacity, so it’s great to have the state of California to lean on,” admitted Fennessy.


Five firefighters have been injured in the Silverado blaze, Fennessy said. Two are in critical condition and the three others have been treated for minor injuries at local hospitals and released, according to the fire chief.


The two OCFA firefighters were hospitalized with severe burn injuries and remained in critical condition, OCFA Capt. Jason Fairchild said. Officials have been told the next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in their recovery, Fairchild said. They are 26 and 31 years old. Both sustained second- and third-degree burns about 12:15 p.m. Monday, one over 65% of the body and the other over half the body, according to a department spokesman. Both firefighters were intubated at OC Global Medical Center in Santa Ana.


Evacuation orders have been issued for the Jackson Ranch and Williams Canyon area, the OCFA said at 6:39 a.m. Tuesday. Silverado and Trabuco Canyons along Live Oak Canyon were under evacuation warnings, a spokesperson for the agency said.


At 6:40 a.m. the OCFA announced an evacuation warning for Mission Viejo in the areas of El Toro Road to the north, Marguerite Parkway to the west, Upper Oso Reservoir to the east, and Los Alisos Boulevard to the south. With 554 homes in Mission Viejo under an evacuation warning, the city has opened up the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center as a shelter, officials announced.


Later Tuesday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents of Modjeska Canyon.


The fire erupted at 6:47 a.m. Monday in the area of Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads.


Late Monday, Southern California Edison told California officials that a lashing wire may have contacted its overhead primary conductor, sparking the fire. SCE sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday night acknowledging it had overhead electrical facilities in the area where the blaze broke out.


Los Angeles County firefighters headed to Valley Drive and Old Topanga Canyon Road in Topanga to respond to a brush fire reported in the area at 12:44 p.m. according to Leslie Lua, a spokesperson for the agency.


Forward progress was stopped but not before the blaze impacted two structures — one of which was an outbuilding — and spread to brush in the area of Valley Drive and Old Topanga Canyon Road, according to a county fire spokesman. He said crews found downed power lines at the location.


Another brush fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon in Glendale. Fourteen homes were evacuated as a precaution before crews stopped the fire’s spread. Power was also turned off in the 900 block of West Mountain Street, near Matilija Road.


The flames were first reported at 2:16 p.m. near Brand Park, at the bottom of the Verdugo Mountains, according to Glendale city spokeswoman Eliza Papazian. Shortly before 3 p.m., the fire had spread to eight acres, Papazian said.


By 4:05 p.m., the fire’s spread was stopped at nine acres, and all evacuations were lifted, the Glendale Fire Department reported.


Glendale Water & Power crews were at the scene working to restore power.


Smaller blazes sparked in Acton, Riverside and San Diego on Tuesday and were quickly put down by fire crews.


City News Service contributed to this report.