A new blaze, the Silverado Fire, prompted evacuations for about 60,000 residents – also affected about 10 schools – Monday in the Orchard Hills neighborhood of Irvine, Orange County, California.
The fire, which began Monday morning at 6:47 a.m. PDT, quickly exploded to 500 acres during some of the season’s most extreme fire conditions.
Much of the state is under red flag warnings because of high winds and low humidity.
Wind gusts and low humidity are making for dangerous conditions in parts of California. Gusts over 80 mph have been recorded. At least 20 wildfires still have not been fully contained.
Officials closed the 241 Freeway from Santiago Canyon Road to the 133 Freeway. The fire, which began in the Santiago Canyon, jumped the 241, Orange County fire officials said.
With strong winds and dry humidity creating a high risk of catastrophic wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric started shutting off power to more than 360,000 homes and businesses in parts of 36 California counties over the weekend.
The “public safety power shutoffs” will affect about 1 million people in Northern and Central California, according to the Los Angeles Times. The state’s largest utility enacts the shutoffs when weather threatens electric lines and equipment that could spark wildfires.
As a preventive measure, Pacific Gas and Electric turned off power to about 1 million customers in 36 counties, including 133,000 in the Bay Area. https://t.co/jHiWOKfwFn— FOX6 News (@fox6now) October 26, 2020
Wind gusts and low humidity along with drought conditions are creating some of the most extreme fire conditions of the season.
“It’s definitely the strongest wind event of this fire season and probably the lowest humidity as well,” Duane Dykema, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Monterey, told the Los Angeles Times. “So overall, these are the most dangerous and critical conditions we’ve seen this fire season.“
A weather station on Mount St. Helena recorded a wind gust of 89 mph late Sunday. Gusts over 100 mph were recorded at a station 9,186 feet above sea level in Kirkwood, near Lake Tahoe. A 96 mph gust was measured in the San Gabriel Mountains south of Santa Clarita.
Some high-elevation weather stations in the Lake Tahoe area have recorded wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour since about 8 p.m.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) October 26, 2020
A Kirkwood station at 9,186 feet above sea level saw a gust of 119 miles per hour at 8:45 p.m. https://t.co/CVWcrgGwSg
At least 20 wildfires across the state are still not fully contained, according to Cal Fire. This has been California’s worst wildfire season on record with more than 6,453 square miles burned. At least 31 people have died because of the fires.
In addition to the Silverado Fire, a number of other fires popped up Sunday and early Monday, but they were quickly contained and there were no reports of major damage from them.
The shutoffs began Sunday morning and were expected to continue until late Monday, PG&E said. Once the bad weather has subsided, crews from the utility will patrol the lines to see if any repairs are needed. Then, power will be restored in stages.
PG&E said the goal is to restore “power to nearly all customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed.“
The shutoffs will affect about 361,000 customers in targeted portions of 36 counties, including: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba. Some customers in 17 tribal communities will also be affected.
Southern California Edison announced it was considering cutting off electricity to more than 71,000 customers, most of them in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura and Orange counties.
Meanwhile, more than 2.2 million lightnings hit eastern Australia in the last 48 hours. How many fires were ignited?