Containment of the 8,000-acre Canyon Fire 2, which has destroyed 13 homes and two other structures in the Anaheim area, increased to 45 percent contained Wednesday — with full containment expected Saturday — as evacuation orders were lifted and schools were scheduled to reopen.
Most evacuation orders prompted by the fast-moving blaze, which also damaged 21 homes, were lifted around 5 p.m. Tuesday, with much of the blaze doused on the west side of the 241 toll road, allowing crews to focus their efforts on the eastern flank.
A portion of the 241 damaged by the blaze will remain closed indefinitely, according to Lisa Telles of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages the toll roads in the county.
The flames damaged electrical cables, signs, guardrails, fences and traffic control devices, Telles said. There is no estimate when work will be done on repairing the damage and clearing the road of fire retardant, Telles said.
All evacuation orders and road closures in the area were lifted Tuesday evening, with the exception of houses off Windes Drive north of Santiago Canyon Road in Orange. City of Orange officials initially said that area would remain evacuated Wednesday, but changed their minds and announced around 5 p.m. that, “understanding the desire of our residents to get back into their homes as soon as possible,” all residents have been allowed to return.
In Anaheim, Santa Ana Canyon Road between Woodcrest and Gypsum Canyon roads remains closed, fire authorities said.
Residents returning to their homes were being advised to check their property for fire and water damage to ensure the structure is safe. Officials in Orange advised returning residents who own large animals to wait at least 24 hours before retrieving them.
Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi cautioned this morning that the exact figures on the number of structures destroyed and damaged were “fluctuating,” and said only about 25 percent of possibly affected structures had been inspected so far.
Concialdi also urged residents to drive carefully in the affected areas, where more than 1,650 firefighters were deployed in the mopping up effort.
Some firefighters were expected to be de-mobilized Wednesday, and full containment was expected on Saturday, Concialdi said.
Firefighters gained momentum Tuesday thanks to diminished northeast winds, the onset of moist onshore winds, stepped-up manpower on the fire lines and the deployment of numerous water-dropping aircraft. Fire crews reported late Tuesday afternoon that they had built a “solid containment line” along the eastern edge of communities near state Route 241. Containment increased from 5 percent Tuesday morning to 40 percent by day’s end.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
It erupted Monday about a mile from the area scorched by the recent Canyon Fire, which blackened more than 2,600 acres and took more than a week to contain. The new fire initially broke out near the Riverside (91) Freeway east of Gypsum Canyon Road, near the Coal Canyon flashpoint of September’s Canyon Fire, according to the OCFA. But while last month’s Canyon Fire burned east, winds of about 25 mph pushed its sequel to the west on Monday, prompting mandatory evacuation orders for residents south of the Riverside Freeway and west of the 241 toll road.
The evacuation area was repeatedly expanded — with 5,000 homes in Anaheim Hills, Orange and Tustin under evacuation orders at the fire’s height.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Orange County late Monday, freeing up state resources to help with battling the fire. The federal government on Tuesday approved a disaster declaration for California, focusing mostly on fires in the northern part of the state, where at least 15 people have been killed.
Two firefighters suffered minor smoke inhalation battling the blaze.
Chapman University in Orange was closed Monday and Tuesday due to smoky air from the blaze, but classes resumed Wednesday. Santiago Canyon College remained closed Wednesday and will resume classes Thursday.
Orange Unified School District officials said all of its schools would reopen Thursday.
–Updated Oct. 11, 2017 at 9 p.m.
–City News Service
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