Wildfires burn across multiple California counties

Isaac Sieblink, Staff Writer

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Over the past week, Southern California has been plagued by numerous fires in several different counties. A few — such as the Saddle Ridge Fire — have been burning for some time, while most have appeared more recently.

In Riverside County, the Sobrante fire managed to consume 35 acres of land within its burn time of five hours this past Friday. This relatively small blaze was quickly put out with no casualties or evacuation orders, though the cause of the fire is yet unknown. 

The Getty Fire — deemed to be accidentally caused by a wind-blown tree branch — raged across 745 acres, destroying 10 residences, damaging 15 more, and injuring five firefighters. All evacuation orders have been lifted in the Brentwood area, though the authorities have warned citizens to “be prepared in the event of a brush fire, remain vigilant, and familiarize themselves with the Ready-Set-Go program,” particularly with the fire-hazardous Santa Ana winds.

Initial cause under investigation, the Hillside Fire has destroyed six homes, damaged 18 more, and hospitalized a firefighter due to smoke inhalation. It has currently burned 200 acres in San Bernardino County, with 70% containment. Previously evacuated areas may yet be without power, but there are no current evacuations at this time. 

A burn size comparable to that of the Sobrante fire, the Palisades Fire covered 42 acres and injured a total of four persons. The final report states that firefighters are containing 75% of the blaze, and are “on the scene extinguishing hot spots and ensuring wind gusts do not spread embers.” The report did not mention if the evacuation order — of which 628 structures were evacuated, including a number of horses and other animals — was lifted. 

Though contained by 97%, the Saddle Ridge Fire burned across 8,799 acres and threatened numerous structures, 19 of which it destroyed. Among human casualties, eight firefighters were injured and a civilian died in a hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. Fire-friendly conditions continue to be a concern as those battling the blaze continue the containment effort and investigate the cause.  

Standing at 50% containment, covering an area of 9,412 acres, the Maria fire threatens Ventura county, with full containment projected to fall on this Friday. A total of 1,579 personnel have been dispatched to battle the blaze, accompanied by 166 engines, six helicopters, and numerous other equipment. Wind speeds have receded, all evacuation orders have been lifted, and no injuries have been reported; but, two structures have been destroyed, and the cause of the blaze is yet pending investigation. 

Attention has been drawn, however, to the restoration of a power line approximately 13 minutes before the estimated ignition time of the fire, following a protocol-based power shut-down near Santa Paula. This follows a number of incidents that have potentially involved power equipment, of which Southern California Edison faces possible liability. 

Authorities continue to warn citizens to remain vigilant for wildfires and to be prepared to evacuate.