Smoke from 91 freeway fire
Agencies are warning the fire conditions are extremely high today as Santa Ana winds blow through the area. File image of the Canyon Fire 2 courtesy OCFA

As weary firefighters work to put an end to the massive Orange County fire, red flag fire warnings were still in effect Sunday across Los Angeles and Orange counties due to Santa Ana winds

A high pressure system, coupled with low humidity, will mean the National Weather Service warning will remain in place until noon in Orange County and until 6 p.m. in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. In addition, a wind advisory will be in effect until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Temperatures across the region will soar, with the mercury expected to ready 94 in downtown Los Angeles and other inland areas.

Hot and dry north to northeast winds will gust as high as 40 miles per hour along the Golden State (5) Freeway corridor, in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the Santa Monica mountains and into adjacent portions of Orange County, meterologists said.

These are considered critical fire conditions and the warnings indicate an extremely high risk for firestorms.

The winds, which will be the strongest through the passes and canyons, are expected to subside Monday. But humidity will remain low at under 15 percent at least until Tuesday.

The hot weather and Santa Ana winds weren’t helping firefighters still battling the 9,217-acre Canyon Fire 2 in the Anaheim Hills.

While the blaze was more than 70 percent contained, fire commanders said full containment, which had been expected Saturday, is now anticipated by Tuesday.

“Minimal fire behavior was observed throughout the night (and) all residential areas have been re-populated,” according to an Anaheim Fire Department update Saturday. “The public is reminded to remain vigilant and monitor changes in weather and fire conditions.”

The 241 toll road, which had been closed in both directions between the 91 Freeway and Santiago Canyon Road, was partially re-opened in both directions Friday. The southbound 241 off-ramp to Santiago Canyon Road and the northbound 241 on-ramp to Santiago remained closed.

Strides were made in the earlier part of the weeklong battle, allowing for authorities to lift all evacuation orders by 5 p.m. Wednesday, and several local schools and colleges that closed earlier in the week were open for business by Thursday.

Santa Ana Canyon Road between Woodcrest and Gypsum Canyon roads in Anaheim remains closed.

The flames damaged electrical cables, signs, guardrails, fences and traffic control devices, according to Lisa Telles of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages toll roads in Orange County.

Since breaking out Monday, the fire has destroyed 25 structures and damaged 53 more while threatening some 3,500 others, according to the latest update from the Orange County Fire Authority. More than 1,000 firefighters and other responders from multiple agencies were working on the blaze.

Three minor injuries have been reported in the fire, including two firefighters who suffered minor smoke inhalation.

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.

The House of Representatives approved funding Thursday for wildfire efforts in California, according to Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine.

The bill approved $576.5 million for firefighting efforts in the state, her office said.

“This week, the community of Anaheim Hills was devastated by the quick- moving Canyon Fire 2,” Walters said. “Although 23 structures were destroyed and dozens more damaged, I am thankful no lives were lost in this disaster. Unfortunately, the fires in Northern California are expected to worsen in the coming days. These fires have already claimed numerous lives, destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, and have caused unimaginable pain and suffering.”

–City News Service

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