Two Orange County firefighters were critically injured in a fast-moving blaze in Santiago Canyon near Irvine as more than 60,000 people were forced to evacuate amid powerful Santa Ana winds Monday.
The two hand-crew members from the Orange County Fire Authority were among 500 personnel battling the Silverado Fire, officials said. Both of the unidentified firefighters, ages 26 and 31, had at least half of their bodies covered in second- and third-degree burns, officials said.
Chief Brian Fennessy told reporters at a press briefing Monday afternoon that he visited the injured firefighters in the emergency room at the Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, but said he was unable to talk with the firefighters as they are intubated.
“They were working near what we call the “heel of the fire,” where the fire had started,” Fennessy said at a later press briefing Monday afternoon.
No further details on how the injuries occurred were available, and the Fire Authority has requested an accident review team from the state to investigate, Fennessy said.
“This is a tough fire. We’re experiencing winds, very high winds, very low humidities,” he said. “Our firefighters are some of the bravest, if not the bravest in the world. This is a very hazardous job. I’m just so proud of all my firefighters, my hand crew.”
The Silverado Fire erupted around 6:45 a.m. Monday in the Santa Ana Mountains at Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads. The flames spread to the south and southwest as forecasters predicted gusts of up to 60 to 70 mph.
The fire was initially reported at 10 acres, but grew to 4,000 acres by 1 p.m., according to the Orange County Fire Authority. It’s 0% contained.
Check back for updates on this developing story.