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Mandatory evacuations ordered in Cleveland National Forest wildfire

Mandatory evacuations were underway Friday evening in Orange County as a rapidly moving brush fire has burned more than 1,300 acres in the hills of the Cleveland National Forest.

About 30 homes are being evacuated along Silverado Canyon Road, said Brooke Duthoy, spokeswoman for the Orange County Emergency Operations Center.

The evacuation area starts at 30331 Silverado Canyon Road and continues east to the end of the road, Duthoy said. A evacuation shelter was opened at El Modena High School at 3920 E. Spring Street in Orange.

The brush fire is being fueled by tinder-dry vegetation and is in steep, hard-to-reach terrain.

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Firefighters were being aided by water-dropping aircraft as they tried to hold back flames atop ridgelines near Corona.

Even before the evacuations were ordered, some residents had started to pack up pets and personal belongings to voluntarily evacuate.

The so-called Silverado fire was first reported at 10:32 a.m. in the Cleveland National Forest near the 30500 block of Silverado Canyon Road.

Hot weather was fueling flames as they moved up mountain slopes, consuming chaparral and oak trees “that had not burned in several years,” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz said.

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“The fire is burning up to the ridgelines, which is where we hope to stop it,” he said.

The lack of any strong winds was assisting firefighters.

Setting sprinklers in his yard to dampen nearby brush and trees, 48-year-old Ev Tapia cast wary glances at the towering smoke just up the road. A canyon resident of eight years, said he was relieved at the lack of wind.

But even after the fire season ends, he added, the flood season will follow.

“The best we can do is be ready to go,” he said.

@Louis Sahagun

@JosephSerna

@palomaesquivel

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