Officials Worry About Shifting Winds Affecting Silverado Fire

November 1, 2020 Updated: November 1, 2020

IRVINE, Calif. (CNS)—The Silverado Fire burning in Orange County has charred 12,466 acres and was 82 percent contained on the afternoon of Nov. 1, as fire officials worried about shifting winds.

The overall acreage burned was revised downward from 12,591 acres due to “more accurate mapping,” according to a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

“Firefighters worked today constructing additional containment lines ahead of [Nov. 1’s] northeasterly wind event,” the spokesperson said. “Crews will maintain active patrol this evening mopping up the fire perimeter.”

Nine structures have been damaged, and three structures and two “minor structures” were destroyed in the fire.

More than 69,000 buildings were at one point threatened by the flames, but by the night of Oct. 30, none were at risk.

All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted on the morning of Oct. 29, and some highways were reopened. Silverado Canyon Road and Santiago Canyon Road were opened on Oct. 30, according to Cal Fire.

At its height, 70,000 people were under evacuation orders in Irvine and another 9,500 evacuated in Lake Forest, according to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) and Lake Forest officials.

Fire officials also said northbound Highway 241, from Alton Parkway to Highway 261, as well as southbound Highway 241 from Highway 133 to Alton Parkway, remained closed. Northbound Highway 133, from Interstate 5 to Highway 241, was also closed on the night of Oct. 30.

Cal Fire, which is in charge of the firefighting effort, has been cleaning up areas under control and watching for flare-ups.

OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy said there’s been no change in the condition of two firefighters who remain hospitalized in critical condition.

The injured firefighters are 26 and 31 years old. Both sustained second- and third-degree burns about 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 26, one over 65 percent of his body and the other over half his body, Fennessy said.

Those wishing to donate to the injured firefighters can contribute to the OCPFA Fallen Firefighters Relief Fund at www.ocfirefighters.org.

The Frank R. Bowerman Landfill in Irvine was damaged in the fire, according to Orange County Waste & Recycling, which owns and operates the landfill.

“OCWR staff have reported significant damage to the environmental control and stormwater infrastructure” resulting from multiple spot fires throughout the landfill property, OCWR said in a statement on Oct. 28.

None of the landfill’s structures or heavy equipment were damaged, however, and no injuries were reported.

High winds, which handicapped firefighters when the fire broke out on Oct. 26, were much less of a factor on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.

The repopulation of parts of Irvine on the morning of Oct. 28  was a “testament to the hard work of all firefighters on the ground and in the air that have worked hard the past two days to protect life and property,” according to OCFA’s Steve Concialdi, who added that no homes have been damaged or destroyed as a result of the Silverado Fire.

The fire started at 6:47 a.m. on Oct. 26 in the area of Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Late on Oct. 26, electric company Southern California Edison (SCE) told California officials that a lashing wire may have contacted its overhead primary conductor, sparking the fire. SCE sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission on the night of Oct. 26 acknowledging it had overhead electrical equipment in the area where the blaze broke out.

Full containment isn’t expected until Nov. 10.