The Silverado Canyon fire --which prompted the evacuation of dozens of residents as it grew to about 1,600 acres -- was started accidentally by metal sheeting used to protect a homeowner’s backyard vegetable garden, officials said Monday.
The owner had the metal sheeting around the outside of the garden to prevent small animals and rodents from chewing the vegetables, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
“Unfortunately, over time, the sun had reflected off the metal,” he said, and like a magnifying glass, the concentrated heat sparked a fire in the surrounding wood and leaves, which had become tinder dry due to drought-like conditions.
“The fire basically started to burn in the vegetable garden, spread, and ran up the hill,” Concialdi said. “The homeowner called 911, grabbed the hose, and other neighbors grabbed hoses and tried to help too.”
The owner had no idea the metal sheeting could start something like this, said Concialdi, who recommended using non-reflective materials, like wire mesh, instead.
“It’s very rare, but it does happen, like in this case.”
The fire was first reported at 10:32 a.m. Friday in the Cleveland National Forest near the 30500 block of Silverado Canyon Road.
Hot weather over the weekend fueled flames as they moved up mountain slopes, consuming chaparral and oak trees that had not burned in years, fire officials said.
At least 71 homes in the canyon were left without electrical power after the fire charred two utility poles Friday night, Cleveland National Forest officials said.
The fire was 80% contained by Monday afternoon, officials said, with more than 1,000 firefighters, five helicopters and four bulldozers still fighting the blaze.
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