Homes burn as fire roars through Anaheim Hills - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Homes burn as fire roars through Anaheim Hills

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ANAHEIM (CNS) - Overnight water drops were made Tuesday to battle a wind- driven brush fire that has destroyed at least 24 structures and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents while scorching about 7,500 acres in the Anaheim Hills, fire commanders said.

According to incident commanders, some evacuation orders could be lifted as early as this evening.

With the blaze only 25 percent contained, the water drops were made by three helicopters -- supplied by the Orange County Fire Authority, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service -- said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.

Fourteen helicopters and six fixed-wing aircraft have been made available for deployment in the firefighting effort, which has involved about 1,100 firefighters from various agencies, said Daron Wyatt of Anaheim Fire and Rescue.

The fire prompted the evacuation of about 5,000 homes in Anaheim Hills, Orange and Tustin and threatened about 3,500 homes, Wyatt said in a briefing after daybreak Tuesday.

It was unclear how long the evacuation orders would be in place, but Wyatt said it was not likely that evacuated residents would be allowed to return to their homes any time Tuesday.

Firefighters battled the flames Monday amid dry, gusty conditions that prompted red flag warnings across the region. One firefighter suffered a minor smoke-inhalation injury, Wyatt said.

The fire erupted Monday about a mile from the area scorched by the recent Canyon Fire, which blackened more than 2,600 acres and took more than a week to contain.

Initially reported at 25 acres, the latest blaze -- dubbed Canyon Fire 2 -- exploded across about 500 acres by midday, then across 4,000 to beyond 5,000 acres by late afternoon, fire officials said.

By Monday night it was only 5 percent contained, and that figure remained unchanged this morning, Wyatt said.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Orange County late Monday, freeing up state resources to help with battling the fire.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen for miles in all directions, prompting warnings from health officials for people to remain indoors.

Schools from South Los Angeles to Corona to Long Beach took precautions to protect students, primarily by keeping them inside, as sunny skies gave way to smoke-fueled gloom Monday. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for a wide swath of Orange County and southern Los Angeles County.

The fire initially broke out near the Riverside (91) Freeway east of Gypsum Canyon Road, near the Coal Canyon flashpoint of September's Canyon Fire, according to the OCFA.

But while last month's Canyon Fire burned east, winds of about 25 mph pushed its sequel to the west on Monday, prompting mandatory evacuation orders for residents south of the Riverside Freeway and west of the 241 toll road. The evacuation area was repeatedly expanded. An information hotline was set up at (714) 765-4333.

Officials in the neighboring city of Orange issued evacuation orders for all residents north of Santiago Canyon road to the city border with Anaheim. That order was later extended south to Chapman Avenue, then south again into the Santiago Hills area as far south as Canyon View Avenue.

A non-emergency information hotline was set up in Orange at (714) 744- 7550. The Tustin Ranch area was also evacuated.

Two evacuation centers were established in Anaheim: East Anaheim Community Center, 8201 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, and the Downtown Anaheim Youth Center, 225 S. Philadelphia St. Overnight shelters were established at El Modena High School, 3920 E. Spring St., in Orange and at Katella High School, 2200 E. Wagner Ave., Anaheim.

The Village at Orange mall, 1500 E. Village Way, was made available as a staging area for residents unable to reach their homes due to the fire, although the mall was not designated an evacuation center.

Residents with large animals were urged to take them to the Orange County Fairgrounds.

The Country Car Pet Resort at 4691 Valley View Ave. in Yorba Linda was accepting companion pets at no cost during the emergency and can accommodate 120 dogs and around 50 cats.

Yorba, Irvine and Santiago Oaks regional parks were all closed to the public "as a precaution due to the proximity of the fire," said Marisa O'Neil of OC Parks.

Three elementary schools -- Running Springs, Anaheim Hills and Canyon Rim -- in the Orange Unified School District were evacuated Monday, with students bused to Canyon High School.

District officials said those three schools will remain closed Tuesday, along with six other campuses:

  • Chapman Hills Elementary;
  • Linda Vista Elementary;
  • Panorama Elementary;
  • Santiago Charter School;
  • El Rancho Charter School; and
  • El Modena High School.


Santiago Canyon College and Chapman University were both closed and evacuated Monday, and all classes canceled. Santiago Canyon College will remain closed Tuesday, officials there said.

The Riverside (91) Freeway was closed for a time, but has been reopened. The 241 was closed in both directions between the 91 Freeway and State Route

261.

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