YORBA LINDA, CA — The wind-driven Blue Ridge Fire in Yorba Linda that has burned 14,334 acres, destroyed one home and damaged seven others was 23 percent contained Wednesday at 8 p.m.
All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted By 5 p.m., asa repopulation began for all who were forced to flee the oncoming blaze earlier in the week.
The Blue Ridge Fire, which began Monday afternoon amid howling Santa Ana winds raced through Yorba Linda in the area of the Green River Golf Course. High winds, which grounded firefighting aircraft on Monday, were "much less of a factor" on Wednesday, enabling the big planes and helicopters to do their work.
"The winds we've had today were very calm," said Firefighter Edwin Zuniga, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "I haven't seen a big push. It's a light breeze, but nothing significant."
Firefighters are not engaged in any active fire fronts, Zuniga said. "That tells us the fire activity is very minimal."
As of Wednesday evening, 1,051 personnel are assigned to the Blue Ridge Fire. Three helicopters, 210 engines, 14 bulldozers and 7 water tenders are working to increase containment.
Some roads in the area have started to reopen -- one of two lanes will be open on southbound Corona (71) Freeway while crews fix a fire-damaged guardrail. Repairs are expected to be completed by 4 p.m. Thursday.
Traffic was also being allowed on the Riverside (91) Freeway connectors to the Chino Valley Freeway, a Caltrans spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, state Route 142 between Chino Hills Parkway to Portola Parkway reopened at 5 p.m., Caltrans said.
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 reporters the fire was "very active," saying crews started to get a handle on flames around 3 a.m. Wednesday, 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 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, was reported at 12:55 p.m. Monday next to the Green River Golf Club, off of Green River Road and the Riverside 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 Freeway Tuesday, but were quickly extinguished, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jason Fairchild.
The OCFA issued evacuation orders about 11 p.m. Monday for residents living in thousands of homes spreading from Yorba Linda to Diamond Bar and Brea.
The head of the fire entered Orange County shortly before 1:30 p.m. Monday. The fast-moving blaze raced toward Yorba Linda, posing a threat to scores of residences.
The fire has damaged seven structures and destroyed one home since it began, according to reports.
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 Newsom 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.
Animals were also being sheltered at the OC Fair and Events Center in Costa Mesa and at the Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress.
City News Service contributed to this report.