Winds Fanned California Fires and Kept Thousands of Evacuees Away

October 27, 2020

Crews tried to beat back two out-of-control wildfires in Southern California on Tuesday that have kept tens of thousands of people out of their homes.

Fierce winds that drove twin fires through brushy hills near cities in Orange County a day earlier were expected to pick back up, although not to the earlier extremes, according to the National Weather Service.

Southern California Edison reported to regulators that it was investigating whether its equipment might have sparked the Silverado Fire near the city of Irvine. The utility said a wire that lashed a telecommunications line to a supporting cable may have struck a 12,000-volt conducting line above it.

Edison was among the utilities in California that deliberately cut power to customers to prevent equipment from being knocked down or hit with debris in the winds and sparking wildfires. Utility equipment has been blamed for several destructive fires in recent years.

Irvine residents had to evacuate after the fire broke out early Monday, while later and a few miles away, another blaze, the Blue Ridge Fire, sent people fleeing from the Yorba Linda area. One home was reported damaged.

Firefighters remained on high alert due to strong winds across much of California, with more than 4,000 firefighters on the frontlines of 22 wildfires in California, according to CalFire’s latest report.

“Red Flag Warnings remain in effect across much of California today due to extreme fire weather conditions,” the report states. “In Northern California winds, will likely remain 20-30 mph, with gusts of up to 70+mph in some areas. In Southern California, a moderate to strong Santa Ana Wind event is underway in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Riverside counties. Gusts upwards of 80 mph are expected. An additional Red Flag Warning has been issued through Tuesday night for the Southern Sierra, Kern County Mountains, Inyo, and the Mojave Desert.”

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