As hundreds of firefighters are continuing their battle Tuesday against the wind-driven Silverado Fire burning near Irvine, five have been injured and two remain in critical condition, officials said.
Three of the firefighters were treated for minor injuries and have since been released. The other two, who are members of the Orange County Fire Authority handcrew, suffered second and third-degree burns and remain hospitalized.
OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy said Tuesday the two young firefighters are “fighting for their lives.”
The blaze had scorched 13,354 acres and remained 5% contained as of Tuesday evening, officials said.
Video showed flames burning dangerously close to homes in the evacuated Foothill Ranch neighborhood about 5 a.m. Firefighters appeared to keep those flames away from any of the homes despite gusty winds continuing to blow in the area.
A high wind warning remained in place for areas of Orange County near the fire through 2 p.m. Tuesday. Wind gusts between 50 and 60 mph were expected, according to the National Weather Service.
About 750 firefighters have been called to fight the Silverado Fire, which broke out about 6:45 a.m. Monday in the Santa Ana Mountains at Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads.
More than 70,000 homes in the Irvine area remain under evacuation orders. Another 8,000 Lake Forest area homes were also under evacuation orders.
An evacuation warning is in place for Silverado, Modjeska and Trabuco canyons along Live Oak Canyon, the Fire Authority tweeted Tuesday morning.
Officials asked residents to heed evacuation orders.
Click on this link for a list of evacuation orders and warnings for the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires
No homes had been destroyed in the fire as of Tuesday afternoon.
Evacuation centers were established at the following facilities:
- Woodbridge High School
- Las Lomas Community Center
- Turtle Rock Community Center
- University Community Center
- Quail Hill Community Center
- Los Olivos Community Center
- Harvard Community Center
- Rancho Senior Center
California Highway Patrol officials blocked traffic in the following areas as of Monday night:
- Southbound 91 Freeway to the 241 Freeway
- Northbound 241 Freeway from Alton Parkway
- Eastbound Chapman Avenue/Santiago Canyon Road closed at Jamboree Road
- Santiago Canyon Road from Silverado Canyon Road
The fire prompted school closures within the Irvine and Tustin unified school districts Monday.
UC Irvine also suspended on-campus operations due to smoke from the fire.
All Irvine Unified School District schools will remain closed Tuesday, officials stated on Twitter.
Mail ballot drop boxes located in the following locations have closed because they’re within the mandatory evacuation area of the Silverado Fire and the Blue Ridge Fire in Yorba Linda:
- 24705 Paseo De Toronto, Yorba Linda
- 5701 Trabuco Road, Irvine
- 1300 Sanctuary, Irvine
- 18931 Saddleback Ranch Road, Trabuco Canyon
Election officials asked residents who need to return their ballots to use one of the 112 drop boxes still open in the Orange County.
Southern California Edison said its equipment may have sparked the blaze, the Associated Press reported.
The utility said in a report to the California Public Utilities Commission that it’s investigating whether a “lashing wire” which connects a telecommunications line to a support cable may have struck a 12,000-volt conducting line above it.
The Silverado Fire is one of two major fires burning in Orange County Tuesday.
The Blue Ridge Fire, which also broke out Monday, has scorched about 15,200 acres and has damaged at least 10 homes in the Yorba Linda area.
Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel on Tuesday signed an emergency declaration in the region in response to both blazes.
“The County is monitoring the situation closely & is ready to assist as we face this natural disaster together,” Steel said in a tweet.
The OC Firefighters Local 3631 is raising funds for the two seriously injured firefighters. Those wishing to donate can visit the GoFundMe page.