The Fires That Burned Through Orange County
How the Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires affected locals.
Late October saw fires sweeping their way across Southern California, particularly the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires that resulted in residents evacuating their homes in Irvine, Lake Forest, and Yorba Linda.
The fire in Silverado started around 6:47 a.m. on Monday, October 26th and burned through 12,466 acres. It was reported from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials that nine structures were damaged, five structures destroyed, and thousands of homes were threatened.
In Yorba Linda, the Blue Ridge fire began at 2:32 pm and burned 13,694 acres, damaging 10 structures and destroying one.
As the fires grew worse throughout the day, 70,000 people in Irvine were mandated to evacuate, either staying at evacuation centers, finding a hotel, or staying at their relative’s house.
Ryann Genal, a junior at Mission Viejo High School, recalled the sky having a “dark brown, orange color” with “the clouds covering the sun making it a bright red color” feeling intimidated. On that day, she evacuated at around 3pm.
“I was nervous because I had never had to evacuate before, but I adjusted and packed quickly,” says Genal when asked about her initial response.
Instead of going to an evacuation center, Genal and her family went to an airbnb in Los Angeles, close to the middle of West Hollywood. Since this was her first time experiencing an evacuation, her family believed it was best to leave the area as soon as possible.
During this time, Genal missed a day of Zoom classes because the airbnb she stayed at had terrible wifi. Luckily, after three days, they were able to return home.
In addition to Irvine, 6,000 Lake Forest residents were also issued to evacuate. One of them was Lucy Lamadrid, a freshman at Trabuco Hills High School. She left her home in Foothill Ranch at around 5pm and stayed at a friend’s house.
Lamadrid says, “I felt really anxious, and I was mainly worried about where I was going to stay. I had a stomach ache for a while because I was just feeling overwhelmed, but fortunately once I found out my friend’s family was letting my family stay at their home, I felt a little more relieved.”
When asked if this event has changed her in any way, Lamadrid responded by saying how it “made me more aware of how fortunate I am to have so many things (a house, food, clothing, etc.) that others may not have access to. I truly am blessed and so that everything was safe and in good condition by the time I returned home.”
Unfortunately, these haven’t been the first fires to occur this year. For instance, there was the August Complex fire, a massive wildfire that is now California’s largest fire in history. The complex consisted of 38 separate fires throughout Northern California that were ignited by lightning strikes.
While lightning strikes can play a role in causing wildfires, there are many ways these fires can start. Weather, climate change, and human interaction are all major factors in why California is having unprecedented wildfires.
For the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires, the Southern California Edison Company may have caused it, reporting that, “it appeared a cable lashed to a telecommunications wire came into contact with a power line.”
Even though the cause still remains unknown, there are many ways people can prevent wildfires. Some things everyone can do is to not burn anything unusual, extinguish campfires when done, and to not set off fireworks.