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Bond Fire Burns In Orange County, Forcing 25,000 Evacuations

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Firefighters from Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach battle the Bond Fire in Santiago Canyon. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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Jump to: Evacuations | Shelters | Closures | Air Quality | Maps | More Info/Resources

Dry conditions, warm temperatures and Santa Ana winds are fueling the Bond Fire in Orange County. The fire started around 10 p.m. Wednesday night at a home in the 29400 block of Silverado Canyon Road. Fueled by strong winds from the northeast, it quickly spread to nearby vegetation.

At a press conference on Thursday at 3 p.m., Chief Brian Fennessy with the Orange County Fire Authority said the brush fire has burned through 7,200 acres and is zero percent contained. 25,000 people have been evacuated, and 500 firefighters are on the scene.

He said the fire had "significant potential for growth", and that even if residents didn't currently see smoke or hear sirens, if they had any doubt they should evacuate.

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"I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say 'well, I just didn't realize the fire was gonna get there as quickly as it did'."

Just two months ago, the fast-moving Silverado Fire traversed across the same Loma Ridge that's now being threatened by the Bond Fire.

Captain Thang Nguyen said that the current weather was a major cause.

"A big driving factor is that we have really low relative humidity, which made the fuel pretty susceptible to burning. And then in the canyons, we've got pretty strong winds, so that's what we're dealing with," Nguyen said.

Two firefighters were injured battling the fire this afternoon. They were treated by paramedics and transported to a hospital for further care.

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Firefighters from Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach battle the Bond Fire in Santiago Canyon. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 7,200
  • Containment: 0%
  • Structures destroyed: unknown
  • Structures threatened: several, number unknown. "We know that a number of houses have been damaged, potentially destroyed," said OCFA chief Brian Fennessy. "They're being assessed."
  • Resources deployed: 500 firefighters, 4 helicopster, 5 air tankers
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A home in Santiago Canyon is spared from the Bond Fire. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory: Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for...

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  • Baker Canyon
  • Black Star Canyon
  • Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills west of El Toro and north of the 241 Toll Road.
  • Modjeska Canyon
  • Silverado Canyon
  • Williams Canyon

Voluntary: Voluntary evacuation orders or evacuation warnings are in effect for...

  • Borrego Canyon
  • Cowan Heights
  • Holy Jim Canyon
  • Lake Forest -- from the 241 Toll Road, along Bake Parkway to Musick and north to the border with Irvine and from the 241 Toll Road north to Bake Parkway to Foothill Ranch Community Ranch
  • Lemon Heights
  • Live Oak Canyon
  • Meadow Ridge Drive
  • Portola Hills
  • Rose Canyon
  • Trabuco Canyon
  • Valley Vista Way

Check this interactive evacuation map.

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A map of the Bond Fire evacuations on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

EVACUATION CENTERS

For people:

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Residents who need to evacuate are urged to stay with family, with friends, or in a hotel. The OCFA tweeted early this morning, "Due to COVID-19, no congregate shelter is offered."

  • (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)
  • While the evacuation center at Santiago College is closed, the Red Cross has opened an evac center at El Modena High School (3920 E. Spring Street, Orange).
  • The El Toro High parking lot (25255 Toledo Way, Lake Forest) will be used as an evacuation center for the city of Lake Forest.
  • If you need evacuation due to medical, mobility or other reasons, contact the OC Sheriff's Department at 714-647-7000.

For animals:

  • Orange County Animal Care will accept small household pets (1630 Victory Road, Tustin). Please bring photo ID, vet records, special food, and meds with your pets.
  • The OC Fair and Events Center will accept large animals (88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa). Enter at Gate 5 off of Arlington Drive. Call 714-708-1588 for more info.
  • The Los Alamitos Race Course (4961 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos) will also accept large animals. Use main entrance off Katella and turn left toward stalls. Call 714-820-2800 for more info.

A public information hotline has been activated so residents can call for more information and resources -- 714-628-7085.

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Bruce McDougal of Santiago Canyon explains how he protected his home from the Bond Fire overnight. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

ROAD CLOSURES

  • Santiago Canyon between 241 and Jackson Ranch is closed except to emergency vehicles

SCHOOL CLOSURES

The Irvine, Newport-Mesa, Saddleback Valley and Tustin unified school districts have announced school closures and temporary shifts to distance learning in response to the Bond Fire.

  • Irvine Unified -- Due to poor air quality that has compromised HVAC systems, all Irvine Unified School District schools will be closed Thursday. Students who receive in-person instruction will temporarily transition to distance learning.
  • Newport-Mesa Unified -- All schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District will transition to distance learning on Thursday.
  • Saddleback Valley Unified -- Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills and Trabuco elementary schools will be closed on Thursday. In addition, the following schools will offer distance learning:
    • Del Lago Elementary
    • El Toro High School
    • Gates Elementary
    • Glen Yermo Elementary
    • La Madera Elementary
    • Lake Forest Elementary
    • Melinda Heights Elementary
    • Olivewood Elementary
    • Rancho Canada Elementary
    • Santiago STEAM Magnet Elementary
    • Serrano Intermediate
    • Trabuco Hills High School
  • Tustin Unified -- District officials said all TUSD classes will be offered via distance learning on Thursday, citing the fires, poor air quality, possible power outages and regional evacuation orders impacting district employees.
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An air quality map of smoke from the Bond Fire. (Fire.AirNow.Gov)

AIR QUALITY

The multiple fires that have broken out across Southern California over the past 24 hours have made air quality especially dangerous in some areas. Plumes of smoke from these fires are being pushed out towards the ocean by Santa Ana winds.

If it smells like a campfire outside and you're considering outdoor activities... DON'T. The mass amounts of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) burrow deep into your body, spread through your bloodstream and can cause internal problems.

Elevated levels of PM2.5 from fires have been linked to increased rates of heart attacks, strokes and arrhythmias. Those with medical conditions like asthma and COPD could see their symptoms exacerbated, and their likelihood of hospitalization increase.

Head to Fire.AirNow.gov to check the air quality in your area.

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Firefighter Jerry Bewer from the city of Orange works the Bond Fire. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

WEATHER CONDITIONS

A spokesperson from the National Weather Service told LAist this week that the conditions right now are similar to the ones that caused the massive Thomas Fire a few years ago. That fire, which started in December 2017, burned through more than 280,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties , forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate and causing $2.2 billion in damage.

Inland Orange County is under a red-flag warning until 10 p.m. Saturday for extreme fire danger due to high winds and low relative humidity.

GEOGRAPHY

Just two months ago, the fast moving Silverado Fire traversed across the same Loma Ridge that's now being threatened by the Bond Fire.

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A map of the Silverado Fire that burned earlier in 2020. (San Diego Super Computing Center/San Diego State University)

And 13 year ago, the Santiago Fire consumed nearly the entire area, just about up to Silverado Canyon.

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A map of the Santiago Fire that burned in 2007. (San Diego Super Computing Center/San Diego State University)

That's sort of good news — although not from an ecological standpoint — because grasses and some of the heavier fuels have likely been cleared out. Hopefully, that will give firefighters a reprieve.

That said, there are also hills around Irvine Lake that haven't burned since the 1990s, and parts of Silverado Canyon that haven't burned in more than a century, at least according to available records. Meaning, heavier, harder to extinguish fuels are likely present.

THE BACKGROUND

The Bond Fire started around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at a home in the 29400 block of Silverado Canyon Road and quickly spread to nearby vegetation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

  • @OCFA_PIO
  • @OCSheriff
  • A public information hotline has been activated so residents can call for more information and resources -- 714-628-7085.
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Firefighters battle the Bond Fire in Orange County. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

FIRE RESOURCES

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.

Monica Bushman, Carla Javier, Julia Paskin, Jacob Margolis and Elina Shatkin contributed reporting.

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