OC wildfire update: Bond Fire now 40 percent contained

Below is a running digest on Orange County’s wildfires and school closures, with newer stories posted at the top. For official information on local fires, evacuations and road closures, be sure to follow the Orange County Fire Authority on Twitter.

LATEST UPDATES

Updated at 10:25 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2020

Bond Fire, which swept through Rancho Soñado, now 40 percent contained

Here’s the latest on the Bond Fire as of Saturday morning:

  • The wildfire has consumed 7,375 acres but officials are reporting 40 percent containment, with no additional injuries. There are 1,588 firefighters assigned to the blaze, which has destroyed five structures and damaged five more, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
  • Rancho Soñado, which serves as the home base for OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors program, sustained heavy damage. No OCDE staff members were injured, but two structures were lost, and numerous animals that were housed on the site did not survive. A a GoFundMe page has been set up to collect donations for the Inside the Outdoors Foundation and the family of the caretaker who lived on the property.
  • Orange County school districts impacted by the fire have indicated they plan to return to their regular learning schedules on Monday, Dec. 7.
  • According to the Orange County Register, evacuation orders remain in place for Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons but have been lifted in Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. Lake Forest remains under evacuation warning.

As usual, follow the Orange County Fire Authority’s official Twitter feed for the latest fire updates.

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Updated at 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2020

Bond Fire at 10 percent containment; districts impacted by the fire to resume regular schedules Monday

With the help of milder wind conditions, local firefighters continue to make progress on the Bond Fire that has consumed 6,400 acres in the Silverado Canyon area of Orange County.

According to an update Friday morning from the Orange County Fire Authority, containment is at 10 percent, all roads are re-opened except for Santiago Canyon Road, and evacuation orders have been lifted in Lake Forest, north of Alton Parkway, east of the 24. However, mandatory evacuation orders still remain for Silverado Canyon areas.

While continuing to keep a close watch on air quality and smoke conditions, most Orange County school districts impacted by local fires — including the Irvine, Newport-Mesa, Saddleback Valley and Tustin unified school districts — plan to return to regular hybrid learning schedules for Monday, Dec. 7.

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Updated at 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2020

Some OC schools will offer distance learning or remain closed Friday

From the air and from the ground, crews continue to battle the Bond Fire, which has injured two firefighters and ravaged at least 7,200 acres. Containment remains at zero percent.

While local campuses don’t appear to be threatened by the wildfire, extremely poor air quality and evacuation orders have disrupted the operations of a handful of surrounding districts. Here’s the latest on school closures and modified schedules for Friday, Dec. 4.

Irvine Unified

All Irvine Unified School District campuses will remain closed on Friday. Officials said students who normally receive in-person instruction will participate in distance learning.

Newport-Mesa Unified

Students will continue with 100 percent distance learning on Friday. District officials said school-specific information will be provided to families by site principals.

Saddleback Valley Unified

Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills elementary schools will remain closed on Friday, with no distance learning or hybrid classes. The following schools will provide distance learning for all students:

  • 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 Elementary
  • Trabuco Hills High School

Tustin Unified 

Due to poor air quality, unknown wind conditions, possible power outages and continued evacuations, all schools in the Tustin Unified School District will continue with distance learning on Friday.

Check back with us for updates, and be sure to follow the Orange County Fire Authority’s Twitter feed for the latest information.

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Updated at 12:05 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2020

A number of OC campuses close in response to Bond Fire; many switch to distance learning

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

Approximately 500 firefighters are fighting the blaze, which broke out Wednesday night in Silverado Canyon and has since burned more than 7,000 acres. Here’s a look at its impacts on local school districts:

Irvine Unified

Irvine Unified School District officials said the entire city was experiencing poor air quality, compromising HVAC systems that have been bringing in outside air as a COVID-19 safety measure. As a result, all IUSD schools will be closed Thursday and students who receive in-person instruction will temporarily transition to distance learning.

Newport-Mesa Unified

As a result of smoke and poor air quality, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District announced that all schools will transition to distance learning on Thursday. District leaders are continuing to monitor smoke in the area and will update the community on any new developments.

Saddleback Valley Unified

Based on the current conditions and evacuation orders, Saddleback Valley has announced that 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

The El Toro High parking lot will be used as an evacuation center for the City of Lake Forest, district officials said.

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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Updated at 7:45 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2020

Bond Fire prompts mandatory evacuations; Irvine closes schools

Driven by aggressive winds, a fire that started in Silverado Canyon has consumed thousands of acres, prompting mandatory evacuations and school closures.

In an email to parents, Irvine Unified School District officials said the entire city was experiencing poor air quality, compromising HVAC systems that bring in outside air as a COVID-19 safety protocol. As a result, all IUSD schools will be closed Thursday and students who receive in-person instruction will temporarily transition to distance learning.

The Bond Fire has been growing rapidly since breaking out at about 10:15 on Wednesday night, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The blaze continues to move southwest, and based on predictive modeling it has the potential to reach more populated areas.

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for the Modjeska, Silverado and Williams Canyon areas, along with Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills West of El Toro and North of the 241 Toll Road.

Voluntary evacuations have been issued for the following areas:

  • 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
  • Borrego Canyon
  • Foothill Ranch
  • Baker Ranch
  • remaining Portola Hills
  • Live Oak Canyon
  • Trabuco Canyon
  • Rose Canyon
  • Valley Vista Way
  • Meadow Ridge Drive

As usual, follow the Orange County Fire Authority’s official Twitter feed for the latest updates.

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Updated at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2020

Crews gaining the upper hand on OC fires; most schools back on regular schedules

Here’s the latest on the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires, courtesy of the Orange County Fire Authority’s official Twitter feed.

  • The Silverado Fire off Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads, southwest of Silverado, is now 63 percent contained. The burn area stands at 13,390 acres.
  • The Blue Ridge Fire north of the 91 Freeway in the Yorba Linda and Chino Hills area is about 47 percent contained after burning 14,334 acres.

All evacuation orders have been lifted and most school districts are back on their regular schedules. The Saddleback Valley Unified School District announced Thursday that the Foothill Ranch Elementary campus remains closed today, with all students participating in distance learning.

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Updated at 11:01 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2020

Silverado Fire is now 40 percent contained; Blue Ridge Fire is at 30 percent

Local fire crews continue to make progress on the two wildfires that prompted major evacuations and school closures this week.

The Silverado Fire that started east of Irvine is now 40 percent contained after burning 13,390 acres, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, which says more than 1,200 firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

The Blue Ridge Fire, which is east of Yorba Linda, is at 30 percent containment after consuming 14,334 acres. OCFA reports that 1,051 personnel are on the scene, and all evacuation orders have been lifted.

More resources and information are available at tinyurl.com/OCEVAC.

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Updated at 4:53 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2020

Most OC districts will resume regular schedules Thursday, but there are a few exceptions

Most Orange County school districts impacted by local fires — including the Orange, Placentia-Yorba Linda and Tustin unified school districts — announced a return to their regular schedules for Thursday, Oct. 29. But there were a few notable exceptions.

Here’s our latest rundown of school closures and plans for instruction on Thursday, Oct. 29.

  • Brea Olinda. All campuses will be open. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online.
  • Irvine. All elementary academic models will resume their regularly scheduled instruction. Instruction will continue online for all middle and high school academic models on Thursday and Friday, with regular schedules set to resume Monday.
  • Newport-Mesa. All campuses will be open. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online.
  • Orange. All campuses will be open. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online.
  • Placentia-Yorba Linda. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online, with two exceptions — Bryant Ranch and Travis Ranch schools in Yorba Linda will participate in 100 percent synchronous remote learning through Friday, Oct. 30, with the hope of resuming in-person hybrid instruction on Monday, Nov. 2.
  • Saddleback Valley. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online, with three exceptions — Foothill Ranch Elementary, Melinda Heights Elementary and Portola Hills Elementary students will participate in distance learning.
  • Tustin. Students will resume regularly scheduled hybrid instruction, both in-person and online, with the exception of Orchard Hills School, which will continue distance learning through Friday, Oct. 30.

This list will be updated as new information becomes available. For the latest information on the fires and evacuation areas, please follow the Orange County Fire Authority on Twitter.

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Updated at 10:23 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2020

Silverado Fire is 25 percent contained; Blue Ridge Fire at 16 percent

The Orange County Fire Authority reported Wednesday that crews had contained 25 percent of the perimeter of the Silverado Fire east of Irvine and 16 percent of the Blue Ridge Fire near Yorba Linda.

As of this morning, the Blue Ridge Fire had consumed 14,334 acres and damaged seven damaged structures, including one that was completely destroyed. The Silverado Fire was holding at 13,354 acres with no structures damaged.

More than 1,300 firefighters are working both fires, which prompted school closures throughout Orange County.

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Updated at 4:35 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2020

Rundown of school closures for Wednesday, Oct. 28

Many Orange County school districts continue to be affected by the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires in Irvine, Yorba Linda and surrounding communities. While some districts have been able to keep their campuses open, others have opted for non-instructional days or distance learning.

Here’s the latest rundown of school closures and plans for instruction on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

  • Brea Olinda. Students will resume their normal Wednesday distance learning schedules, with the following exceptions: All special education classes will be conducted through distance learning, child care will be closed, and grab-and-go meals will not be offered.
  • Irvine. Wednesday will be a non-instruction day for students. All campuses remain closed.
  • Newport-Mesa. Students will resume their normal Wednesday distance learning schedules, with the following exceptions: All special education classes will be conducted through distance learning, child care will be closed, and grab-and-go meals will not be offered.
  • Orange. Campuses remain closed, with all students participating in distance learning. The district will offer grab-and-go meals at each school site between noon and 2 p.m.
  • Placentia-Yorba Linda. Wednesday will be a non-instruction day for students. All campuses remain closed.
  • Saddleback Valley. Fifteen campuses in the district will remain closed with all students from those campuses participating in distance learning. The affected schools are: Del Lago Elementary, Foothill Ranch Elementary, Gates Elementary (p.m. session only), Glen Yermo Elementary, La Madera Elementary, Lake Forest Elementary, Melinda Heights Elementary, Olivewood Elementary (p.m. session only), Portola Hills Elementary, Rancho Canada Elementary, Santiago Elementary, Serrano Intermediate, Trabuco Elementary, El Toro High School and Trabuco Hills High School.
  • Tustin. Students will resume their normal Wednesday distance learning schedules. All SDC classes in the district will be conducted through distance learning.

This list will be updated as new information becomes available. For the latest information on the fires and evacuation areas, please follow the Orange County Fire Authority on Twitter. 

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Updated at 3:05 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2020

Brea Olinda and Orange unified to remain closed for in-person instruction on Wednesday

Brea Olinda and Orange unified school districts have announced that out of an abundance of caution, schools will remain closed on Wednesday, Oct. 28, with all students participating in distance learning.

Brea Olinda child care services and grab-and-go lunches will also be cancelled for all students.

Orange Unified will offer grab-and-go meals on Wednesday at each school site between noon and 2 p.m.

In an email sent Tuesday to families and community members, Orange Unified Superintendent Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen said, “Although the high winds have subsided, our maintenance crews are working diligently to clear outside debris, clean, and conduct site safety checks before students return to campus.”

Both districts plan to update families with additional information by Wednesday afternoon.

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Updated at 11:50 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2020

Saddleback Valley closes 15 campuses on Tuesday; students to participate in distance learning

Saddleback Valley Unified School District announced Tuesday that 15 of its schools will participate in 100 percent distance learning due to the Silverado Fire and poor air quality.

The following campuses are closed: Del Lago Elementary, Foothill Ranch Elementary, Gates Elementary (PM Session Only), Glen Yermo Elementary, La Madera Elementary, Lake Forest Elementary, Melinda Heights Elementary, Olivewood Elementary (PM Session Only), Portola Hills Elementary, Rancho Canada Elementary, Santiago Elementary, Serrano Intermediate, Trabuco Elementary, El Toro High School, and Trabuco Hills High School.

The Silverado Fire has burned 11,199 acres, putting more communities in danger of being evacuated, fire authorities said. Burning east of Irvine, the fire was only 5 percent contained, as last reported by the Orange County Fire Authority.

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Updated at 8:05 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2020

Brea Olinda, Orange and Laguna Beach districts close campuses on Tuesday; students to participate in distance learning only

Due to poor air quality and intermittent power outages caused by local fires that continues to blaze in Orange County, the Brea Olinda, Orange and Laguna Beach unified school districts are requiring that all students stay home on Tuesday, Oct. 27 and participate in distance learning.

Brea Olinda Superintendent Dr. Brad Mason announced in a message on Monday evening that the district’s childcare program will also be closed. However, grab-and-go meal service will still be available for families in need.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and your family but we are prioritizing the health and safety of our students and staff,” Dr. Mason wrote. “We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”

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Updated at 5:52 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified cancels Tuesday’s classes

In support of families and staff impacted by the Blue Ridge Fire, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District declared an emergency non-instructional day for all students on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Superintendent Greg Plutko noted mandatory evacuations in eastern Yorba Linda and “significantly poor air quality” throughout the area in a message posted on the district’s website.

Instruction, child care and all other districtwide activities will be cancelled “out of an abundance of caution,” he said, with an intended return date of Wednesday, Oct. 28. But grab-and-go meal service will still be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Esperanza and El Dorado high schools, as well as at Golden, Melrose, Rio Vista and Topaz elementary schools.

“Thank you for your partnership and support of our entire PYLUSD community,” Plutko wrote. “We will continue to keep you informed as we have updates.”

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Updated at 4:12 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

Tustin schools will close in response to Silverado Fire

With many of its families and staff impacted by the Silverado Fire, the Tustin Unified School District announced it would close all schools, including those offering distance learning, on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

The closure, taken “out of an abundance of caution,” will continue until further notice, a district statement said. All school-related activities and childcare facilities at TUSD school sites will also be temporarily suspended.

Neighboring Irvine Unified made a similar announcement earlier in the day.

“The Tustin Unified School District is committed to the safety of our students and staff, and we are working closely with fire and police agencies,” spokesman Mark Eliot said.

For more information, visit the Tustin Unified School District website, or follow the district’s social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @tustinusd.

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Updated at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

Blue Ridge Fire near Yorba Linda prompts school evacuation

An additional fire in the Yorba Linda area has prompted evacuations. The Blue Ridge Fire was initially burning in the area of Green River Road near the Green River Golf course and the 91 Freeway, but has now spread to neighborhoods in Yorba Linda.

Evacuation orders were issued for Yorba Linda neighborhoods north of the 91 Freeway, east of Gypsum Canyon including Bryant Ranch Elementary school, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The Placentia Yorba Linda School District issued a statement on Monday afternoon saying that students, who had returned for in-person instruction, are being bused to nearby Esperanza High School.

According to the district, the OC Sheriff’s Department is not recommending any additional school closures or evacuations at this time.

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Updated at 3:35 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

Irvine Unified says all schools will close on Tuesday

With the Silverado Fire at zero percent containment, the Irvine Unified School District announced that all of its campuses will be closed on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Officials said there will be no online instruction either, adding that Southern California Edison has informed the district that several areas may be without power for periods of time.

Irvine’s Maintenance and Operations team plans to check and clean campus HVAC systems and filters, along with classroom air purification systems.

Meanwhile, Irvine, University and Woodbridge high schools will be used as temporary shelters for those displaced by the fire.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and families is our top priority,” the district said in a statement. “Please know that we understand how stressful this time is and we are committed to supporting our IUSD community.”

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Updated at 12:17 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

Health Care Agency: Wildfire smoke poses potential health risk

The OC Health Care Agency on Monday warned that smoke from the fire may pose a health danger to Orange County residents, especially those in certain high-risk groups.

“Everyone should take precautions to stay cool and drink plenty of water to reduce health risks related to the heat and wildfire smoke,” County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau said. “Additional precautions are especially needed for older adults, those with preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease, those with disabilities, children, and those who may be working outdoors.”

Officials advised residents to avoid vigorous activity, keep windows and doors closed, and drink extra water to help filter out potentially harmful particles.

The HCA says to seek medical attention if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

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Updated at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2020

As Silverado fire gains ground, Irvine schools evacuate

More than a dozen Irvine schools dismissed students on Monday as firefighters continued to battle the wind-driven Silverado Fire, which has prompted widespread evacuations.

In neighborhoods blanketed by heavy smoke, Portola Springs, Eastwood, Stonegate, Loma Ridge, Canyon View and Santiago Hills elementary schools in the Irvine Unified School District asked families to pick up their children in the morning, as did several nearby private schools.

Wildfire

Photo of the Silverado Fire from the Orange County Fire Authority’s Twitter feed.

Later, the Irvine Police Department suggested evacuations between the 5 Freeway and Irvine Boulevard, leading to student dismissals for IUSD’s Brywood, Northwood, Cypress Village and Woodbury elementary schools, along with Cadence Park and Beacon Park K-8 schools.

Because of Irvine’s hybrid schedule, middle and high schools were not in session.

In Tustin Unified, Hicks Canyon and Myford elementary students were picked up by their families. Orchard Hills students were transported to Beckman High School for dismissal, the district said.

Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Jerry Almendarez cautioned that students there could also experience disruptions in their distance learning, as some of the district’s staff members live in areas impacted by evacuation orders.

Fire driven by erratic winds

The vegetation fire began at 6:47 a.m. near Santiago Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road, according to the City of Irvine’s website. The Orange County Fire Authority, which responded with ground and air support, said flames rapidly grew from 10 acres to more than 2,000 acres, propelled by intense and erratic winds.

“The fire started in Silverado Canyon, and helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are on the way,” Irvine Mayor Christina Shea said Monday morning. “The wind is making it move very quickly.”

By 9:30 a.m., officials reported that the wildfire had jumped State Route 241 and nearby structures were threatened. Approximately 60,000 residents were ordered to evacuate communities in northeast Irvine, as 150 firefighting units worked to slow the brush fire.

Two firefighters were later critically injured, suffering second and third degree burns.

According to the county, the 241 Corridor was closed between Portola Parkway and Jamboree Road and from Chapman Avenue to the 91 Freeway. Santiago Canyon Road was closed between Live Oak Canyon Road and the 241.

Parents are advised to check the Irvine Unified School District Twitter and Facebook pages for updates related to school closures.