OCTOBER 28, 2020 – The aggressive Silverado Fire in Orange County may have been started by faulty Southern California Edison equipment, the utility company has revealed. In a report to the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison reported that a “lashing wire attached to a third-party telecommunications line” appears to have hit a conductor, causing the initial spark.
The report is part of an investigation into the cause of the fire, which remains ongoing. No official cause has yet been confirmed. Southern California Edison equipment is also being examined as a possible cause of the Bobcat fire in the San Gabriel Mountains; that fire has yet to be fully contained.
UPDATE: 5:45 P.M. – Two firefighters have been critically injured while fighting the fast-moving Silverado Fire near Irvine. The responders have been intubated after suffering second- and third-degree burns over more than half of their bodies.
The fire has swollen to more than 7,000 acres over the course of the day as dangerous wind gusts continue to push the flames through dry vegetation. The gusts have also limited the ability for air-based response to the flames. More than 90,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from 22,000 threatened homes in Irvine.
“This is a tough fire, where we’re experiencing very high winds, very low humidities,” Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy told NBC News. “Our firefighters are some of the bravest, if not the bravest in the world.”
Elsewhere in Orange County, the Blue Ridge Fire which began later in the day on Monday has also exploded dramatically, causing authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for residents of 70,000 homes in the areas around Yorba Linda and Hidden Hills.
Southern California Edison reports that it currently has around 22,000 homes and businesses without power and will be preventatively cutting power to over 100,000 more. PG&E, which serves some customers in Orange County as well as other parts of the state, has today cut power to around 355,000 customers–an outage which NBC reports likely impacts around 1 million Californians.
OCTOBER 26, 2020, 11:00 A.M. – The Silverado Fire in Orange County has already burned 500 acres in just a few hours, and gusting winds continue to drive the aggressive blaze. At least 60,000 residents of the city of Irvine have received mandatory evacuation orders and residents of Tustin, Foothill Ranch, and neighboring areas are being warned by the National Weather Service to “stay vigilant” and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
The blaze initially sparked around 6:45 a.m. at the intersection of Santiago Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road, KTLA reports. Wind gusts of 45 to 84 miles per hour whipping through the area carried sparks and fanned the flames quickly, causing it to explode to hundreds of acres by 9 a.m.
Firefighters are responding with land and air forces, but, the Orange County Fire Authority tells The O.C. Register, the fire continues to move at “a moderate rate of speed.”
While structures are currently “threatened” by the blaze, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, it seems none have been damaged so far. Damage has been reported in the area due to the winds themselves, which have been powerful enough to down trees. Southern California Edison, the utility for the area, has confirmed that it is in the process of shutting down power to a portion of the affected area.
It could be one of many fires to spark in the coming days, as Southern California weather conditions have triggered red flag warnings indicating extreme fire risk.