The Silverado Canyon fire sends thick smoke into the air Friday as fire crews work to contain the blaze. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Silverado Canyon fire sends thick smoke into the air Friday as fire crews work to contain the blaze. Photo by John Schreiber.

More than 1,000 firefighters have been sent to surround a heavy brush on the flanks on Silverado Canyon Saturday, as the fire that broke out Friday has blackened about 1,600 acres and was about 10 percent contained.

Cleveland National Forest fire bosses assigned a chopper to make nighttime drops in the darkness overnight, a new tool for the National Forest Service. The agency came under heavy fire for refusing to use new infrared vision equipment in aircraft in the early hours of the disastrous Station Fire near Mt. Wilson in 2009.

Heat and dehydration was the major concern for firefighters today, a USFS spokesman said, as temperatures were to approach 100 degrees and humidity levels were bone dry. But winds in the Santa Ana Mountains were enarly non- existant, eliminating one major worry.

On Friday, three firefighters were hospitalized with minor heat-related injuries.

The fire broke out for as-yet undisclosed reasons at about 10:30 a.m. in the 30500 block of Silverado Canyon Road, fire officials said. The blaze was initially reported at about 15 acres, burning in Silverado Canyon near the Orange-Riverside county line.

By midafternoon, it had ballooned to 1,300 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was leading the firefight. It had put up a huge header of smoke, visible from more than 80 miles distant.

The fire is blackening a largely remote area on the western flanks of Santiago Peak, east of Anaheim and south of Corona. The fire was not a threat to the Ortega Highway or other major roads, and no thoroughfares were closed.

Although some homes dot Silverado Canyon, fire officials said no structures were immediately threatened. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued at 6 p.m. for residents living from 30500 Silverado Canyon Road east to the end of the canyon, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Although about 436 customers lost power Friday, Southern California Edison workers were able to isolate affected circuits and restore power to all but 107 accounts near the fire.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said the three injured firefighters were released from a hospital around 11 p.m. Friday.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at El Modena High School, 3920 E. Spring St., in Orange.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for portions of Orange and Riverside counties due to the blaze. The areas “directly” affected by the smoke, according to the agency, include Saddleback and Capistrano valleys of Orange County and the Corona, Norco and Lake Elsinore areas of Riverside County.

Concialdi said the agency sent four planes to the scene, including air tankers to drop retardant on the flames.

Tauhir Jones, U.S. Forest Service spokesman for the Cleveland National Forest, said the USFS had sent 10 engines, two water-dropping helicopters, one helitanker, one hand crew and two water tenders to the scene.

Two DC-10 retardant-dropping planes were also aiding in the firefighting effort.

—City News Service

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