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Blue Ridge Fire: Blaze Burns Over 14,300 Acres; Containment At 16%; Evacuation Orders Lifted

Updated
Published
Traffic is diverted off of the 71 Freeway during the Blue Ridge Fire on Oct. 27, 2020 in Chino Hills. (David McNew/Getty Images)

This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the Blue Ridge Fire for Thursday, Oct. 29 >>

This story was last updated at 6:15 p.m.


The Blue Ridge Fire continues to burn in both Orange and San Bernardino counties, threatening homes in Chino Hills and Yorba Linda.

But all evacuations and warnings were lifted at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Here's what we know so far:

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 14,334 (down from earlier estimate after "better mapping")
  • Containment: 16%
  • Structures threatened: 20,099
  • Structures damaged/destroyed: one structure destroyed, seven damaged, per CalFire
  • Resources deployed: 1,000 firefighters

Strong winds are helping spread the flames, according to CalFire, with gusts between 30 and 50 mph. Forecasts predict those winds will start to let up this evening; fire crews will likely take advantage of the lull to build containment lines.

Firefighters react to approaching flames at the Blue Ridge Fire on Oct. 27, 2020 in Yorba Linda. (David McNew/Getty Images)

ROAD CLOSURES

  • Northbound 71 at 91
  • Southbound Euclid at 71
  • Santiago Canyon at Ridgeline
  • Northbound 241 at Alton

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT VOTING?

All ballots in the affected drop boxes have been retrieved and secured by Registrar of Voters’ Ballot Collection Teams under escort by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

You can find updated ballot dropbox info here.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

This is a developing story. We fact-check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think fire, police, government officials and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

FIRE RESOURCES

YOUR QUESTIONS OR IDEAS

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Los Angeles County Voters Are Astounding Analysts With Huge Early Turnout

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Published
Voters cast their ballots at the vote center inside Staples Center. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The number of vote-by-mail ballots returned so far in L.A. County has eclipsed previous elections and the high rate of early turnout is surprising experts.

With just under a week to go until Election Day, the county is nearing 2 million votes cast. Angelenos have already surpassed half the vote total of the 2016 presidential election.

A total of 1,857,573 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned as of Tuesday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office, and 116,084 county voters have cast a ballot at a vote center.

At the same point in 2016, with six days of voting left in the general election, Los Angeles County saw a total of 557,557 votes cast, according to data collected by the non-partisan firm Political Data Inc. Of course, this is the first election in which every eligible L.A. County voter received a ballot by mail.

Paul Mitchell, California voter data guru and vice president of Political Data Inc., says a flood of ballots were mailed back to county elections offices in just the first couple days after registrars sent them out in early October. Typically it takes at least a week to see significant returns.

“We honestly were scratching our heads and double checking the data to make sure that we had what we thought we had,” Mitchell said. “It was pretty astounding.”

It’s tough to compare apples-to-apples, because prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Angelenos still had to request mail-in ballots, and L.A. has lagged slightly behind the rest of California in adopting vote-by-mail.

But as Mitchell points out in a recent column for Capitol Weekly, the rest of the state is also seeing ballots pouring in at historic early rates.

For context, a quick look at the 2016 Presidential Election: 1,283,648 Angelenos voted by mail, out of a total of 3,544,115 votes cast. There were 5.25 million registered L.A. County voters during this election, putting turnout at just under 63% of registered voters.

This time around, Los Angeles County had 5.6 million registered voters as of September 2020.

Statewide, analysts are predicting a total of roughly 16.5 million votes to be cast. There are more than 21 million registered voters in California.

Mitchell said it’s too early to tell what the strong early participation numbers mean for overall turnout, because many low-propensity voters are still waiting to turn in their ballots or show up to vote centers -- and that could translate to long lines on Election Day.

Many more voting centers will open this weekend. You can find a map of locations at our Voter Game Plan.

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After Contentious Meeting, LA City Council Delays Vote On Anti-Camping Law

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Published
Homeless encampments on Skid Row, photographed on June 30, 2019 in Los Angeles. (James Bernal for KPCC/LAist)

The Los Angeles City Council was due to vote today on whether to amend local laws to effectively ban homeless encampments in certain parts of L.A.

But after a long and contentious meeting, it instead decided to push the motion until November 24, with Council President Nury Martinez saying she wants council members to come up with "real solutions" during that time.

Supporters of the controversial motion say it will help get homeless people off the streets and into shelters, while opponents say the changes will criminalize homelessness.

Last week, council members Bob Blumenfield, Joe Buscaino and others introduced a motion instructing the City Attorney to amend two city laws, L.A. Municipal Codes 41.18 and 56.11.

Those laws prohibit camping and having “bulky” items in public places, but recent court rulings prevent the city from enforcing anti-camping laws without having adequate shelter beds available.

The proposed changes would allow the city to ban sitting, sleeping or lying down within 500 feet of freeways, freeway ramps, tunnels and certain homeless services facilities opened after January 1, 2018. They would also allow a ban on storing personal property in any of those areas.

The motion faced harsh public comment from homeless advocates during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

GO DEEPER:

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Silverado Fire: More Than 13,000 Acres; Containment At 25%; Some Evacuation Orders Lifted

Updated
Published
Firefighters work during the Silverado Fire in Orange County on October 26, 2020 in Irvine, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the Silverado Fire for Thursday, Oct. 29 >>

This story was last updated at 4:45 p.m.

Follow these official sources for the latest emergency information:


The Silverado Fire continues to burn in the hills near Irvine as firefighters have been taking advantage of improved weather conditions to contain the blaze.

Evacuation orders in place for roughly 70,000 homes in Irvine were lifted this afternoon. Additional mandatory evacuations in much of Lake Forest were also lifted, although some homes in communitites adjacent to the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park remain under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

Here's what else we know so far today:

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 13,354
  • Containment: 25%
  • Structures threatened: At the height, as many as 69,058
  • Structures destroyed: None
  • Resources deployed: 1,200+ firefighters

On Monday, two firefighters were burned over at least half their bodies and were intubated. Orange County Fire Chief Brian Fennesy described them as "gravely injured."

Three other firefighters have sustained minor injuries.

The fire started at 6:47 a.m. Monday in the area of Santiago Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road, according to a post from the city of Irvine.

The strong, dry Santa Ana winds that howled through the region starting Monday let up Tuesday evening, and CalFire officials said crews were taking advantage of conditions by building containment lines overnight.

BACKGROUND

The area that's burning last burned in the Santiago Fire back in 2007.

That fire consumed 28,000 acres and destroyed 42 structures. Fuel is lighter this time around because of the previous fire, but there are far more homes threatened as developments have expanded.

CAUSE

Nothing is confirmed yet, but Southern California Edison has notified the state that its power line may have sparked the fire.

The report says "it appears that a lashing wire that was attached to an underbuilt telecommunication line may have contact SCE’s overhead primary conductor which may have resulted in the ignition of the fire."

An internal investigation at SCE is ongoing, according to the report.

EVACUATIONS

Note: Mandatory evacuations were lifted for the entire city of Irvine as of 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. Find details for Irvine zones via this map.

Lake Forest evacuation zones 1 through 9 have also been lifted, as well as Orange County zones MV1 and T3.

Several areas are still under mandatory evacuation, including Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, parts of Foothill Ranch and Mojeska Canyon.

Check the Orange County Emergency Public Information Map to see if you may be in an evacuation zone.

SCHOOL CLOSURES

All schools in the Irvine Unified School District remain closed today, according to Irvine city officials. Families were urged to monitor their phones and emails for updates and visit IUSD's Twitter page for more information. Tustin Unified School District schools resumed instruction today.

EVACUATION CENTERS

*For the most up-to-date information on evacuations, the Orange County Sheriff's Department website has an emergency map.

  • University High School: 4771 Campus Dr
  • Woodbridge High School: 2 Meadowbrook
  • Las Lomas Community Center: 10 Federation Way
  • Turtle Rock Community Center: 1 Sunnyhill, 92603
  • University Community Center: 1 Beech Tree Lane
  • Quail Hill Community Center: 35 Shady Canyon Dr
  • Los Olivos Community Center: 101 Alfonso
  • Harvard Community Center: 14701 Harvard
  • Rancho Senior Center: 3 Ethel Coplen Way
  • Newport Coast Community Center: 6401 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Newport Beach, CA 92657
  • Village Church of Irvine at 77 Post

Note: Officials say the evacuation centers allow pets, but residents also have the option of dropping off their pets at Irvine Animal Care Center.

ROAD CLOSURES

  • Southbound 241 at HWY 91
  • Northbound 261 at Irvine Blvd.
  • Northbound 133 at I-5
  • Santiago County at Hwy 241

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT VOTING?

On Monday, four ballot drop boxes in Orange County were closed, as they happened to be inside the evacuation zones for both the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires.

As of Wednesday afternoon, two of those boxes have reopened --Drop Boxes #28 (5701 Trabuco Road, Irvine) and #29 (1300 Sanctuary, Irvine).

All ballots in the affected drop boxes have been retrieved and secured by Registrar of Voters’ Ballot Collection Teams under escort by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

You can find updated ballot dropbox info here.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

This is a developing story. We fact-check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think fire, police, government officials and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

FIRE RESOURCES

YOUR QUESTIONS OR IDEAS

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COVID-19 Cases Rise Again In LA County

Updated
Published
(Courtesy L.A. County Public Health)

Public health officials warn that Los Angeles County is seeing another rise in new coronavrius cases as gatherings increased around sporting events — like the Dodgers' and the Laker's championship runs.

Latest data shows the average number of new cases climbing gradually from 940 a day at the start of the month, to nearly 1,200 a day as of last week.

County public health director Barbara Ferrer says the trend is cause for concern:

"We know that an increase in cases can and usually does result in an increase in cases and hospitalizations and deaths several weeks later."

Besides sports viewing the trend also occurred with the reopening of some businesses.

Locally 10% to 15% of new cases are traced back to someone eating at a restaurant or visiting a bar. In the last 24 hours, the county recorded more than 1,300 new cases and 20 deaths. Earlier this week, L.A. County topped 300,000 cases and 7,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Tuesday, Oct. 27:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

MLB: Dodger's Justin Turner Was 'Wrong' To Return To Field After Testing Positive For COVID-19

Updated
Published
Justin Turner #10 is seated in the front middle for the Dodger's World Series victory photo. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

For a moment L.A. fans forgot all about the coronavirus pandemic and then we all remembered when Major League Baseball announced why Dodger 3rd baseman Justin Turner had suddenly been taken out of the game without explanation in the 8th inning: a positive coronavirus test.

Baseball's guidelines require the player to come out and go immediately into isolation. That's what happened until the strikeout that ended the game. Turner then returned to the field to celebrate with his teammates — and join in a team photo.

Major League Baseball says today that Turner "chose to disregard" baseball's coronavirus guidelines and that security asked him to leave the field but "he emphatically refused to comply." League officials also said that his decision to "leave isolation and enter the field was wrong."

It's also scrambled the travel plans for both teams, with MLB officials saying no one goes anywhere until the "appropriate authorities" say they can. The Dodgers and the Rays — plus team personnel — are undergoing a new round of tests.

MORE

Check Out The Photos From Last Night:

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How LA Celebrated The Dodgers' First World Series Win In 32 Years

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Published
Dodgers fans celebrate winning the 2020 World Series along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

The Dodgers brought home their first World Series win in over 30 years, beating out the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 6, 3-1. This is the team's first World Series win since 1988, and their 7th overall. The victory marks two very big, very welcomed wins in the past two months, making 2020 just a little more bearable for the people of L.A.

While the Dodgers won't be officially celebrating their victory any time soon because of the pandemic, fans celebrated hard. Car horns blared throughout the night declaring victory, chants to the Dodgers filled the air, and fireworks erupted above the city. Fans hit the streets despite urging from Mayor Garcetti to withhold from congregating. The night ended in confrontations between crowds and the police.


Check Out The Photos From Last Night:

Morning Briefing: LA's New Response To Mental Health Crises

Updated
Published
A mural raising awareness on mental health is painted across the windows of a Koreatown building. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A.

In response to demands for the city to respond to residents experiencing mental health crises with mental health experts instead of armed police officers, L.A. officials announced the city will partner with an existing county program to do just that.

The program will be piloted beginning Jan. 1 by placing mental health specialists at five fire stations throughout the city. My colleague Robert Garrova reports that those specialists will respond to some 911 calls, although it’s not yet clear which calls or how they will be routed.

The LAPD also supports the program.

“Rather than looking to yet another program from LAPD or LAFD ... it’s pulling things off of our plate and putting them with our mental health professionals,” said LAPD chief Michel Moore.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 28

New California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro intentionally stayed away from the term “Latino” or “Hispanic” to describe himself after trustees announced his appointment. His choice of words resonated with some and fell flat with others, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.

School visits and SATs are (mostly) out. Pandemic essays and virtual tours are in. Like everything else, applying to college is very weird now. Jill Replogle has the lowdown on how to proceed.

Some L.A. city leaders are pushing to amend local laws to effectively ban homeless encampments in certain parts of the city. The highly controversial motion faced harsh public comments on Tuesday, reports Aaron Schrank, but is on the agenda for a vote at a special meeting today.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Wildfires: As of Tuesday evening, the Blue Ridge Fire in Orange County has burned at least 15,200 acres, and was at 0% containment. The Silverado Fire, also in O.C., had burned 12,600 acres and was at 5% containment. This has been an historic wildfire season in California, with 4.2 million acres burned.

Policing The Police: A new report from the L.A. Police Commission Inspector General found racial disparities in both the frequency of police traffic stops and post-stop activity.

Mental Health Care: Mayor Eric Garcetti and county leaders announced a new pilot program using unarmed "therapeutic transport" response to people having mental health crises.

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. announced a pilot program using rapid antigen testing for COVID-19, which it will roll out with firefighters. TheL.A. County Department of Public Health has approved 25 more waivers for local schools to reopen.

Election 2020: Young Angelenos’ views on who they are voting for and why are surprisingly complicated. This year’s LAUSD Unified School Board races have not only been the most expensive on record — they have also been the most negative.


Photo Of The Day

Comedian Macey Isaacs performs onstage in the parking lot of the Magic Castle. Isaacs was performing at the Comedy Store when the venue got shut down due to COVID-19, and had to reinvent herself in order to keep working and performing.

(Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

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