Gale-force winds gusting upwards of 70 mph fueled a fast-moving brush fire in the Anaheim Hills area of Orange County Monday and into Tuesday, destroying at least 24 structures and consuming 7,500 acres as it raged through the night, forcing thousands to remain evacuated.
Fire officials were grateful the wind died down a bit overnight, but admitted that multiple times they were “outrun” by the wildfire near the edge of the Cleveland National Forest.
The fire, dubbed the Canyon Fire 2 because less than a month ago a fire named Canyon Fire burned parts of the same area, is the largest wildfire in Orange County in nearly a decade, and pushed into Riverside County overnight.
Breitbart News reported Monday that the Canyon 2 fire broke out around 9:30 a.m. Monday near the 91 Freeway and Gypsum Canyon Road, quickly leaping the 241 toll road, and racing over the dense underbrush on the hillsides, threatening Tustin, and the City of Orange.
According to an official “Canyon Fire 2 Update” website set up by the City of Anaheim, which includes an interactive map of evacuation areas, here’s the latest as of 11:30 a.m. PDT Tuesday:
Fire remains at 7,500 acres with a jump in containment to 25%, up from 5%.
Weather conditions are favorable with a shift in winds from hot, dry Santa Anas to cooler, more moist ocean breezes.
We continue to monitor winds. Cooler ocean breezes can still drive fire.
But conditions and progress are going well.
No new threats to Anaheim neighborhoods.
But mandatory evacuations remain in place.
Fire officials are evaluating evacuations and looking to see if some people will be able to return to homes tonight.
Meanwhile, Anaheim Police are conducting escorts for people who need to check on pets, get medicine or address other critical needs.
You can do so by coming to East Hills Gymnasium at 8165 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road.
Continue to follow Twitter.com/AnaheimFire and Twitter.com/City_of_Anaheim for best information.
The Orange County Register reports that fire officials aren’t banking on weather conditions to improve:
[O]vernight conditions – with winds dying down a bit and the humidity increasing – helped out, said Sgt. Daron Wyatt, spokesman for both the Anaheim Police Department and Anaheim Fire & Rescue.
Wyatt added, though, that conditions will be similar to Monday, when the fire started in Coal Canyon and spread quickly with the help of hot, dry conditions and the Santa Ana Winds, Wyatt said at a Tuesday morning press conference.
“We don’t expect a good turn to our side,” Wyatt said about the weather.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning through this morning for far Inland Orange County with northeast winds expected to reach 15 to 25 mph and gusts to be around 35 mph.
An estimated 5,000 homes have been evacuated with an additional 3,500 “under threat” from the fire, Wyatt told the Register.
The Los Angeles Times captured the urgency of the situation:
Dio Compolongo, 22, said he operated “on total instinct” when he saw the blaze creeping close to his family’s residence in the Anaheim Hills. He rushed to stir his two younger sisters, both home sick from school, as he frantically checked map apps to find an evacuation route.
“How do you know what to do in situations like this?” he said after escaping to an Anaheim evacuation center about noon Monday.
A full list of evacuation orders, school closures and shelters can be found on KTLA’s website.
Since Anaheim Hills is a heavily equestrian area, many residents have horses, and the fast-moving fire has posed challenges. Originally horses were being evacuated to the Orange County Fair & Event Center, but it is now full, so authorities are recommending the furthest away shelter at the Los Alamitos Race Course.
Two High Schools are functioning as shelters for people, including El Modena High School, 3920 E. Spring St., in Orange; and Katella High School, 2200 E. Wagner Ave. in Anaheim.
Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and Author, currently on a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless. He also ran for governor in 2014.
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