Brush fire in Santiago Canyon breaks out after driver crashes into power pole


A five-acre brush fire broke out in the Santiago Canyon area early Thursday when a man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol crashed his car into a power pole, sending up a large fireball and igniting nearby vegetation, authorities said.

A Toyota Corolla was speeding when the driver lost control and hit a power pole — shearing it in half — at Santiago Canyon Road just east of the 241 Toll Road shortly before 4 a.m. The car immediately caught fire and the flames quickly spread to a nearby hillside, said California Highway Patrol Officer John DeMatteo.

An off-duty Orange County Sheriff’s sergeant was driving to work in the area when he saw a “fireball from his rearview mirror” and turned around to render aid. When the sergeant arrived, the 26-year-old driver was pinned in the burning vehicle. The sergeant ran back to his car to retrieve a fire extinguisher and in that time, the driver got himself out of the vehicle, DeMatteo said.


The driver suffered a broken collarbone and was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center for treatment. Police say he was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The Orange County Fire Authority used air drops and hand crews to battle the blaze and by about 6 a.m. had stopped forward progress of the fire.

The blaze prompted the closure of Santiago Canyon Road from the 241 to Loma Ridge Road. Live Oak Canyon Road to the 241 Freeway was accessible only to residents. It is not clear when the stretch of road will reopen.