A wind-driven brush fire in Silverado Canyon sparked by a house fire has burned 7,375 acres, destroyed 28 buildings and was 50% contained Sunday, with residents still under evacuation orders in Silverado and Williams Canyon.
The 28 structures destroyed were not all homes, and another 19 structures were damaged, the Orange County Fire Authority reported.
An evacuation order for the Modjeska Canyon area was reduced to a warning Sunday, and evacuation warnings were lifted in Lake Forest and the Foothill Ranch area.
Fire officials called a community meeting for 3 p.m. Sunday for evacuated residents in Hangar 244 of the Orange County Great Park, 8000 Great Park Blvd. in Irvine.
Firefighters continued to look for and mop up hot spots while clearing more vegetation around the fire and shoring up the containment lines, the agency said.
Some 1,588 firefighters were still assigned to the blaze and officials warned that there was still a potential in many areas for a strong wind event to spread the fire and threaten adjacent communities.
Winds were expected to pick up again Monday in the inland Orange County area, with gusts up to 45 mph.
Voluntary evacuations remained in effect for the following areas:
— Borrego Canyon;
— Baker Ranch;
— Portola Hills;
— Live Oak Canyon;
— Trabuco Canyon;
— Rose Canyon;
— Valley Vista Way;
— Meadow Ridge Drive;
— Cowan and Lemon Heights.
Evacuees were strongly encouraged to stay with family or friends or in a hotel, according to the OCFA.
Hard closures will remain in place on Santiago Canyon Road at Highway 241 and Santiago Canyon Road at Modjeska Canyon Road. Residents can access the area via the traffic control point at the intersection of Santiago Canyon Road and Ridgeline Road.
The Portola Hills area of Lake Forest will remain under an evacuation warning, fire officials said.
“Due to COVID-19, no congregate shelter is offered,” the authority tweeted. A temporary Orange County Red Cross evacuation point at Santiago Community College was later replaced by one at El Modena High School, also in Orange.
Officials also opened another Red Cross evacuation point at El Toro High School in Lake Forest.
OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy urged residents to be prepared to move when necessary to clear the way for firefighters to battle the blaze.
“Even if you don’t see smoke… If you have a concern the flames are a little bit too close, that’s enough to have your belongings prepared to evacuate,” Fennessy said. “You don’t have to wait for us to call.”
Authorities are also concerned about a number of power poles and lines felled by gusts in the area that could also delay residents from reentering their homes.
Two firefighters were injured battling the blaze. They work for the U.S. Forest Service, assigned to the Cleveland National Forest. They were released from a hospital Thursday night, according to the agency.
One was treated for a leg injury and the other sustained minor bruises, according to the Cleveland National Forest Service.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said about 60 deputies have been deployed to assist with evacuations, traffic control and security in evacuated areas. All the department’s deputies are on 12-hour shifts, he said.
“All days off are canceled to bring in all resources,” Barnes said.
OCFA personnel responded to the 29400 block of Silverado Canyon Drive at about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The blaze is in the same area as the Silverado Fire in October, but there’s still plenty of brush to fuel the flames now, Nguyen said.
“This time, it started in Silverado Canyon on the east side of Santiago Canyon Road and made its way to Santiago Canyon and jumped the road,” Nguyen said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced that the county’s Emergency Operations Center was activated to support the firefighting effort. A public information hotline was activated — 714-628-7085 — for residents to call for information on resources available for them.
Residents were urged to stay informed of the most current information by monitoring @OCFA–PIO on Twitter. Also, a public safety map with evacuation orders and warnings was available at bit.ly/2Vy231m.
Santiago Canyon Road from Jackson Ranch Road to the Eastern Transportation (241 Toll Road) Corridor was closed.
Forecasters issued a fire weather watch for Sunday and Monday, when winds are expected to return. They may not be quite as bad as this week, with the highest gusts 40-50 mph in the foothills and 20-35 mph in the valleys but vegetation is even more dry after the latest wind event, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Liz Schenk.