Blue Ridge Fire 16% Contained; Roads Opening, One Evacuation Lifted

YORBA LINDA (CNS) - The wind-driven Blue Ridge Fire in Yorba Linda that has burned 14,334 acres, destroyed a structure and damaged seven others was 16% contained this morning and the evacuation warning for the southern portion of Diamond Bar will be lifted, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Some roads in the area have started to reopen -- one of two lanes will be open on southbound state Route 71 while crews fix a fire-damaged guardrail, and is expected to be completed by 4 p.m. Traffic was also being allowed on the SR 91 connectors to the 71, a Caltrans spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, SR 142 remains closed from Chino Hills Parkway to Portola Parkway and the 71 southbound at Euclid Avenue off-ramps were also closed, Caltrans said.

The estimation of burned acreage was lowered Tuesday night from about 15,200, according to Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Steve Concialdi. As of Wednesday morning, there was still no word on the cause of the fire.

Travis Wylie, a 36-year-old captain with Cal Fire out of San Bernardino, told City News Service the fire was “very active,'' saying crews started to get a handle on flames around 3 a.m., when the Santa Ana winds started to die down. “With the fuel moistures and everything, it's kind of burning erratic. The fuel moistures are really low.''

Wylie said he was also training two rookie firefighters, and that the fire provided invaluable experience for them as they were able to practice tactics like emergency back-burning as a defensive mechanism.

The brush fire, initially called the Green Fire Fire, was reported at 12:55 p.m. Monday next to the Green River Golf Club, off of Green River Road and the Riverside (91) Freeway in Corona, according to the Corona Fire Department.

Evacuations were ordered for 5,958 homes in Chino Hills and 2,500 in Yorba Linda. In Brea, 276 homes were ordered evacuated, 680 homes voluntarily evacuated and no homes were damaged, officials said.

Flames from two small spot fires jumped the Corona (71) Freeway Tuesday, but were quickly extinguished, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jason Fairchild.

Brea and Chino Hills officials were handling evacuation orders, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen. “We're trying to organize it so it's one central point of information.''

The OCFA issued evacuation orders about 11 p.m. Monday for residents living in thousands of homes in the following areas:

-- The Hidden Hills community and Yorba Linda, north of the Riverside (91) Freeway, east of Gypsum Canyon;

-- All of Carbon Canyon from the county line to Summit Ranch in Chino in San Bernardino County;

-- Homes on the east and west sides of Carbon Canyon Road, including Sleepy Hollow, Oak Tree Downs, Pine Valley Estates, Western Hills and Summit Ranch to the west of Chino; Valley Springs, Carriage Hills and Old Carbon Canyon Road to the east.

Mandatory evacuations were issued just after midnight Tuesday by Brea city officials for residents in all of Carbon Canyon, east of Brea Hills to the county line, including the Olinda Village and Hollydale neighborhoods, and voluntary evacuations were urged for the Olinda Ranch and Brea Hills areas.

Temporary evacuation points in Orange County were at the Brea Community Center, 695 Madison Way; Santiago Canyon College, 8045 E. Chapman Ave.; Woodbridge High School, 2 Meadowbrook, Irvine; Norman P. Murray Community Center, 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo; El Toro High School, 25255 Toledo Way, Lake Forest, and Thomas Lasorda Jr. Field House, 4701 Casa Loma, Yorba Linda.

The Brea Community Center, El Toro High School and Lasorda Field House were open around the clock while the others were open until 9 p.m., but Woodbridge High will be open overnight if needed.

About 2 a.m. Tuesday, L.A. County officials issued an evacuation warning for an area south of Diamond Bar, bordered by Grand Avenue to the north, Diamond Bar Boulevard to the west, the Los Angeles/Orange county line to the south and the Los Angeles/San Bernardino county line to the east. It was rescinded about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued at 4:25 a.m. Tuesday in the San Bernardino County city of Chino Hills for residents south of Soquel Canyon Parkway, including the entire area of Bell Ridge Drive and Golden Terrace Drive on the west to Misty Hill Drive on the east.

Also under a mandatory evacuation order are communities north of Soquel Canyon Parkway at Pipeline Avenue, west of Wickman Elementary School, including homes on Winged Foot Way, Pebble Beach Lane, Singing Hills Drive, August Drive and Firestone Lane.

Evacuation orders issued Monday night included all Carbon Canyon from the county line, west of Sleepy Hollow to Summit Ranch on both the north and south sides of Carbon Canyon Road and the Village Oaks area, west of Peyton Drive near Bayberry, including Oak Creek Road, Oak Canyon Drive and Oak Crest Drive and the entire Vellano community. The evacuation order includes Sleepy Hollow, Hill of Hope, Hillcrest, Oak Tree Downs, Pine Valley Estates, Western Hills Estates, Valley Springs/Western Hills Oaks, Carriage Hills and Old Carbon Canyon Road to the south.

An evacuation warning was issued about 1:25 a.m. Tuesday for residents in the Butterfield Ranch, west of Butterfield Ranch Road, south of Pine Avenue to the Chino Valley (71) Freeway.

There were no evacuation orders or warnings for Corona, according to the OCFA.

The head of the fire entered Orange County about 1:20 p.m. Monday, and the flames raced toward Yorba Linda, posing a threat to scores of residences

A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was secured Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which will assist local and state agencies responding to the fire to apply for 75% reimbursement of their eligible firefighting costs.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel signed an emergency declaration Tuesday and asked the governor to sign one as well for the county to free up more funding.

Because of the wildfires, the Santa Ana Zoo was sheltering about 150 animals from the Orange County Zoo, located in Irvine Regional Park.

Photo: Getty Images

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