Pollution News

Two new California blazes force at least 60,000 to evacuate Orange County amid strong winds


Two major blazes have continued to spread in Southern California, forcing 60,000 residents in Orange County to evacuate. With critical fire conditions not letting up, state officials issued red flag warnings throughout parts of the state.

The Silverado Fire in Irvine erupted early Monday near the Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads in the Santa Ana Mountains. The blaze grew from just 500 acres to 11,200 acres on Tuesday morning, with five percent of it contained. No structures have been lost to the fire although it did burn close to populated areas, prompting officials to close off roads.

Firefighters in Yorba Linda and Chino Hills are also working to contain another furious blaze, the Blue Ridge Fire, which had burned through more than 15,000 acres and damaged at least 10 homes Tuesday.

Two firefighters injured and in critical condition

Two firefighters were critically injured Monday while working to contain the Silverado Fire, according to the Orange Country Fire Authority (OCFA). The OFCA did not provide details on how the injuries occurred, but both firefighters suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies. The firefighters, 26 and 31 of age, were brought to the Orange County Global Medical Center where both were intubated.

“They’re gravely injured,” said OFCA Chief Brian Fennessy. “We’re doing all we can for them.”

Three other firefighters who were also battling the Silverado Fire were treated for minor injuries and released.

The said fire was 40 percent contained as of early Thursday. “Firefighters worked through the night mopping up and bolstering control lines,” said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). CAL FIRE estimates that the fire will be 100 percent contained by Nov. 10.

More than 1,000 firefighters battling the Blue Ridge Fire were also able to make some progress, achieving 30 percent containment by early Friday. Fire officials said high winds were much less of a factor Wednesday and that they do not anticipate the perimeters of either the Silverado or the Blue Ridge Fire from moving.

Edison power line could have sparked Silverado Fire

State investigators are yet to determine the cause of either fire. But the electric company Southern California Edison (SCE) filed its second wildfire incident report for 2020, stating that one of its power lines might have struck their equipment and sparked a fire.

SCE filed its first report last month, stating its equipment had a role in sparking the Bobcat Fire that burned more than 105,000 acres in Los Angeles Country and threatened the historic Mount Wilson Observatory.

These reports have raised concerns about whether the utility company should have cut off power in the region. However, SCE said Tuesday that it did not cut power to the line in question because weather conditions at the time didn’t warrant doing so.

PG&E anticipates cutting power

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) warned Friday that it might cut off power to about 450,000 homes and businesses in 38 counties, or more than one million customers, starting Sunday to avoid sparking new blazes.

Last October, fire officials blamed PG&E transmission lines for igniting the Kincade Fire that ravaged parts of Sonoma County.

This also isn’t the first time that PG&E cut off power in a bid to prevent new fires. Just last month, the company shut off power in 15 counties, which affected about 60,000 customers. (Related: PG&E anticipates cutting power to some 65,000 California customers amid fire risk.)

Since the Kincade Fire, PG&E has relied on preventive shut-offs to lower wildfire risk as much as possible. In a hearing last October, PG&E also said it might continue enforcing such shut-offs for as long as a decade while it worked to improve its power grid.

Read more articles about California’s most devastating fire season to date at ClimateScienceNews.com.

Sources include:

StrangeSounds.org

LATimes.com

OCRegister.com

ABC7.com

NYTimes.com

TheWeek.com

WSJ.com 1

WSJ.com 2

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