Here’s the latest on local wildfires and school closures

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 10:15 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.