Strong Winds Feed the Silverado Fire

     Over tens of thousands of citizens were forced to evacuate due to the explosive blazes of the Silverado Fire on Monday, Oct. 26, continuing through Oct. 27. Citizens could be seen flooding out of the city, followed by huge traffic jams. Homes were threatened, but there was no reported building damage.

     The fire started out as a small v fire at 6:47 a.m., near the Santiago Canyon area. Beginning at 10 acres, the blazes were assisted by erratic winds, leading to the spread of over 2,000 acres by Monday morning. The National Weather Service warned that Orange County would face 30 to 40 mph winds, some reaching up to 80 mph. As of the time this is written, the inferno has spread to over 12,000 acres with 0 to 5 percent containment. 

     Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents of the Orchard Hills community, from Jeffrey Road East to Portola High School. There have been several power outages, and people are promised electricity after the fire event. Only essential services remain open, such as pharmacies and grocery stores.  To help with the panic, various evacuation centers have opened up, such as the Turtle Rock Community Center. The shelters are implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as dispensing masks and ensuring social distancing. Even while trying to maximize capacity, half the centers filled up. A number of hotels were fully booked as well.

     At first, the fire seemed containable to the brush in Irvine. However, fanned by the high 70 mph winds, many Orange County Fire Authority and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection crews foresee no containment, even when assisted by several other agencies. Due to the harsh winds, firefighters are unable to use aerial methods of containment such as water-dropping helicopters. With the winds against their favor, the crew has been unsuccessful and is closing down more areas.

     As the blazes continue to spread, there are increasing evacuation warnings. More roads have been closed, contributing to increasing traffic jams. A red flag warning has been issued over the Irvine area. Orange County Officials urge more citizens to evacuate as air quality worsens and the fire progresses southwest.