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Firefighters halt spread of O.C. Silverado fire that is 10% contained

Firefighters have halted the spread of a 1,500-acre wildfire in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon, officials said.

“It’s pretty much simmering in place,” Vickie Wright, public information officer for the Cleveland National Forest, said Saturday evening. “Right now, it’s all very positive.”

Crews planned to use three water-dropping helicopters through the night to fight the blaze, which is 10% contained. More than 800 firefighters from federal, state and county agencies worked in triple-digit heat to control the fire, which is burning in rugged, chaparral-covered, hard-to-reach terrain.

No structures have been damaged. Three firefighters were treated for injuries: two for heat-related problems and one for a back injury.

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Orange County sheriff’s deputies were going door to door Saturday urging homeowners to heed a mandatory evacuation order in east Silverado Canyon.

More than 730 firefighting personnel, fixed-wing aircraft and six helicopters were assigned to the fire that continued to burn in a northeast direction, away from the estimated 217 residences in the Cleveland National Forest area marked by narrow, winding Silverado Canyon Road.

A red flag warning of fire danger remained in effect in the foothills and mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties as a prolonged heat wave continued across Southern California, the National Weather Service said.

The weather forecast called for parching humidity in the single digits, highs in the 90s to 102 in higher elevations, and up to 105 in adjacent foothills.

“We’re predicting the heat wave will continue through Tuesday,” Bill Forwood, a spokesman for the National Weather Service said.

Many homes in the canyon were left without electrical power after the fire charred two utility poles Friday night, said Vickie Wright, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland National Forest.

“We had to de-energize those power lines,” Wright said. At least 71 homes were affected, and “they will probably remain without power for another few days,” she said.

Also on Friday night, about 30 homes were being evacuated along Silverado Canyon Road, said Brooke Duthoy, spokeswoman for the Orange County Emergency Operations Center.

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

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 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 Friday.

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

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An absence of 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, Tapia said he was relieved by the calm conditions.

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

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

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Twitter: @Louis Sahagun, @JosephSerna, @palomaesquivel


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