CALIFORNIA — Much of Southern California woke up to smokey skies Tuesday as the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires grew overnight. More than 90,000 Orange County residents were ordered to evacuate as the two fires grew, fueled by bone dry air and winds.
The Golden State had braced for the worst wind event of the year Monday, with powerful gusts igniting several fires across the state by midmorning. Santa Ana and diablo winds kicked up ash from old fires and sparked new blazes, prompting California emergency officials to deploy firefighting strike teams to nine counties.
Fires that sparked Monday morning in Orange County, Los Angeles and Riverside counties shrouded surrounding communities in smoke as the strongest winds recorded all year ravaged parts of Southern and Northern California, where critical fire weather was closely monitored by fire crews.
And fire-favoring weather was not expected to subside until late Tuesday for some regions.
Although it seemed that California's worst fire season — or year — on record was winding down, emergency officials have been preparing for this predicted wind event for over a week, bolstering fire staffing and preparing for a potential 1 million Californians to lose power amid public safety shutoffs.
So far, 4.1 million acres have burned in 2020, and more than 5,000 firefighters were battling blazes across the state Tuesday. With the absence of rain so far in October, a dry landscape coupled with high gusts could potentially ignite another string of devastating wildfires.
Over the weekend, red flag warnings were issued for both NorCal and SoCal, with warnings extended across the Bay Area on Monday amid relentless diablo winds, which helped spark a blaze in Solano County. The blaze sent giant smoke plumes into the sky, visible for miles.
An additional red flag warning was issued through Tuesday night for the Southern Sierra, Kern County Mountains, Inyo and the Mojave Desert.
But the largest blaze that erupted during the day was the Silverado Fire, which erupted in Orange County on Monday morning east of Tustin and north of Lake Forest. It had scorched more than 7,000 acres by Monday afternoon with zero containment.
The fast-moving blaze sent tens of thousands residents fleeing from their homes and threatened thousands more structures within the Irvine community.
Of the 500 firefighters responding to the blaze, two were injured Monday. Two Hotshot firefighters were severely burned and transported to Orange County Global Medical Center on Monday afternoon, officials said. They remained in critical condition as of Tuesday morning.
#OCSDPIO Link to evacuation map for multiple evacuation warnings and orders in Orange County from #SilveradoFire and #BlueRidgeFire https://t.co/X3WvEM95yy
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSheriff) October 26, 2020
Firefighters struggled to battle the flames that were fanned by erratic winds blowing through in the area, which grounded air support helicopters and planes, Orange County Fire Authority reported.
A second blaze was sparked in Fullerton midday, prompting evacuations of nearby homes. The small brush fire ignited in the area of Las Palmas and Flintridge.
Another blaze, the Green Fire — later renamed the Blue Ridge Fire — ignited in Corona, prompting evacuations in Yorba Linda. The smokey blaze had scorched 200 acres by Monday afternoon.
It had ripped through 8,000 acres as of Tuesday morning and was zero percent contained. Thousands were ordered to evacuate from their Orange County and San Gabriel Valley homes due to the blaze
For the latest in evacuation orders, a map was provided by Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Winds whipped violently through California on Monday, reaching an unprecedented 96 mph in the foothills around Santa Clarita, according to the National Weather Service.
In the northern reaches of the state, weather stations recorded wind gusts as high as 89 mph overnight near Mt. Saint Helena. Gusts were also recorded as high as 58 mph at Oakland International Airport and 53 mph at the Napa County Airport.
Monday's high winds grounded flights at Ontario International Airport, airport officials announced on social media shortly before noon. All runways and taxiways were closed until further notice.
According to the airport's flight status webpage, arrivals are being diverted or delayed and departures are canceled or delayed.
The powerful gusts carried ash and debris from the newly burning Silverado Fire as far west as Los Angeles, Long Beach and the San Gabriel Valley, according to multiple reports.
But the ash raining down from the sky and blanketing streets in Los Angeles was likely from the nearly contained Bobcat Fire, which has been quietly smoldering for more than a month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The fire has burned more than 115,000 acres, blanketing the fire zone and areas around it in ash.
Over the weekend the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services announced that it was preparing strike teams to deploy in five counties. Prompted by the severity of Santa Ana winds Monday, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties were also added to the list of areas in need of extra fire staffing due to the intense gusts.
A strike team includes five fire engines with 15 firefighters and a strike team leader, according to a statement by Cal OES, updated Monday.
UPDATE: @Cal_OES State Operations Center continues to monitor extreme fire conditions across the state. With the addition of LA, Orange, Ventura, & San Diego, there are now 18 counties with prepositioned resources & strike teams in place to respond. https://t.co/ymsmtuX5GE pic.twitter.com/ncnMZ8mzzW
— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) October 26, 2020
All fires burning across the Golden State as of Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Pope Fire, Napa County (more info…)
1.5 miles southeast of Pope Valley
*61 acres,100% contained
Silverado Fire, Orange County (more info…) **NEW**
Off Santiago Canyon Rd and Silverado Canyon Rd, in Silverado
Dersch Fire, Shasta County (more info…) **NEW**
6 miles east of Anderson
*133 acres, 90% contained
Point Fire, Shasta County (more info…) **NEW**
Off Gas Point Rd in Cottonwood
*275 acres, 90% contained
August Complex, multiple Counties (more info…)
Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity Counties
Elk Creek and Stonyford area (Mendocino National Forest)
*1,032,607 acres, 93% contained
*210 structures destroyed
*The fire is being managed in four zones by 4 national Incident Management Teams
Creek Fire, Fresno and Madera Counties (more info…)
Northeast of Shaver Lake (Sierra National Forest)
*369,362 acres, 63% contained
*Evacuations in place
*Heavy tree mortality in the area
*856 structures destroyed
* California Interagency Incident Management Team 1 is in command
SQF Complex, Tulare County (more info…)
3 miles east of Giant Sequoia National Monument
*169,668 acres, 75% contained
*Evacuation order and warnings remain in place
*228 structures destroyed
*California Interagency Incident Management Team 13 is in command.
Coleman Fire, Monterey County (more info…)
North Fort Hunter Liggett
*574 acres, 70% contained
*Continued structure threat
North Complex, Plumas County (more info…)
Northeast of Oroville to southwest of Quincy (Plumas National Forest)
*318,930 acres, 96% contained
*2,352 structures destroyed
Slater Fire, Siskiyou County (more info…)
5 miles North of Happy Camp (Klamath National Forest)*156,688 acres, 85% contained
Devil Fire, Siskiyou County (more info…)
5 miles north of Upper Devil’s Peak (Klamath National Forest)
*8,885 acres, 67% contained
Fork Fire, El Dorado County, (more info…)
15 miles northeast of Pollock Pines (El Dorado National Forest)
*1,670 acres, 85% contained
Red Salmon Complex – Humboldt County (more info…)
14 miles northeast of Willow Creek (Shasta-Trinity National Forest)
*143,644 acres, 75% contained
Blue Jay Fire, Mariposa County (more info…)
Yosemite National Park Wilderness
*6,840 acres, 50% contained
Wolf Fire, Tuolumne County (more info…)
Yosemite National Park Wilderness
*1,935 acres, 40% contained
Moraine, Tulare County (more info…)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness
*988 acres, 70% contained
Rattlesnake, Tulare County (more info…)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness
*6,867 acres, 40% contained
Dolan Fire, Monterey County (more info…)
Hwy 1, 10 miles south of Big Sur (Los Padres National Forest)
*124,924 acres, 98% contained
Slink Fire, Mono County (more info…)
2 miles west of Coleville (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest)
*26,759 acres, 90% contained
Apple Fire, Riverside County (more info…)
Oak Glen/Cherry Valley (San Bernardino National Forest)
*33,424 acres, 95% contained
Bobcat Fire, Los Angeles County (more info…)
North of Duarte (Angeles National Forest)
*115,796 acres, 95% containment
Bullfrog Fire, Fresno County (more info…)
SE of Bullfrog Lake (Sierra National Forest)
*1,185 acres, 60% contained
El Dorado Fire, San Bernardino County (more info…)
West of Oak Glen (San Bernardino National Forest)
*22,744 acres, 95% contained
COVERAGE FROM CALIFORNIA'S HIGH WIND EVENT, OCT. 26: