4,000 acres burning in O.C.
The Orange County Register
A wildfire that consumed more than 4,000 acres in a wilderness area bordering northeast Irvine has been contained near the city but is still burning elsewhere, fire officials said Sunday night.
Orange County Fire Authority Chief Chip Prather said that about 3,800 acres had burned so far in the Limestone Canyon Region Park area and that Irvine is covered in "some nasty, stinky smoke" but the fire has been extinguished near the city.
Prather said firefighters were most concerned about lives and property when the fire hit the Portola area - the head of the fire. Now they are focusing on the flanks of the fire - the two or three miles on each side.
The department hopes to have air tank support in the morning, he said.
If the wind changes direction tonight, the Peters Canyon area could be affected, he said.
In the Hicks Canyon area, some nurseries were burned and residents evacuated. Prather said firefighters will make sure everyone got out.
Irvine Police Lt. Rick Handfield said at 8:30 p.m. that some residents in the northern area of Irvine were voluntarily evacuating north of Portola Parkway and east of Culver Drive in northern Irvine.
Prather said there have been no mandatory evacuations in Irvine. He recommended that residents take shelter and listen to news reports.
A voluntary evacuation center has been set up at the Lakeview Senior Center at 20 Lake Road. The voluntary evacuations cover both the villages of Portola Springs, north of the old El Toro base, and Northwood.
aThe fire was first reported around 6 p.m. Sunday night in the vicinity of Santiago and Silverado Canyons.
It quickly spread southwest and by 8 p.m. the flames had burned through Hicks Canyon and were at the edge of Jeffery Road and Portola Parkway, according to Kris Concepcion, an Orange County Fire Authority battalion chief.
Concepcion said there were no reports of injuries or of structures damaged so far.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Concepcion said that due to high winds, the fire agency had "pre-stage strike teams" on stand-by to respond this weekend, including 11 fire engines.
"We have a lot more than that right now," Concepcion said.
He estimated the number of fire personnel at the scene at about 160.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for all of southern California over the weekend, warning of winds gusting over 35 mph and low humidity.
"The fire is still out of control," Concepcion said.
According to Prather, the fire started near Irvine Lake, on east side of Santiago Canyon Road.
Prather reported smoky conditions and ash in the the Northwood area of Irvine near the Portola Parkway. He said fire battalions were also responding in a remote area of land around Bee Canyon and Sand Canyon.
Crowds of people were spotted along Irvine Boulevard taking pictures of the Sand Canyon hillside, which was engulfed in flame.
Roads closer to the fire scene, including Jeffrey Road and Sand Canyon Avenue, were blocked by police.
The 241 was closed between Portola Parkway and the junction of the 261 toll road.
According to ABC7, the 241 was shut down between the Eastern Transportation Corridor (133) and Chapman Avenue, and Santiago Canyon Road was closed between Chapman Avenue and Modjeska Canyon Road.
ABC7 news reported earlier that fire was said to be about 20 acres in size when it was first reported.
Sheri Iler of Silverado Canyon saw the fire as she was driving home from work in Newport Beach.
"I knew it was down in this area," said Iler, 45, who made her way to the OCTA command post at Irvine Regional Park after she discovered all the roads to her house had been blocked off.
She said she is worried that if the wind changes, it will move the fire toward her house.
"My pets are there," she said. "I've gotta go save them."
Janeen Etter and her son were preparing to leave their house in the Somerton development of Irvine about 8 p.m.
Etter said they weren't advised to leave. But with embers flying through their backyard and the intense smoke, the two decided to go to a friends' house.
Etter was unnerved, she said, by the sight of the fire less than a mile away.
"Everybody is on status quo right now, trying to figure out if it really a danger or not," said Etter, a 7-year resident of the Irvine neighborhood near Portola Parkway. "Who knows what to expect with the wind."