Orange County’s Silverado Fire similar to 2007 Santiago Fire

The two Southern California fires had comparable footprints after burning for two days, and there are other similarities

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Silverado and Santiago Fires
Silverado and Santiago Fires

There are similarities between the Silverado Fire that has been burning since Monday in Orange County, California, and the Santiago Fire of 2007.

  • They started near the intersection of Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads.
  • They both started in late October, the 21st and 26th.
  • After spreading for two days, their footprints were similar.
  • They burned with a Santa Ana wind during drought conditions.
  • Firefighters were entrapped on both fires. Two suffered serious burns and are still hospitalized from the Silverado Fire. On the Santiago Fire twelve had to deploy fire shelters for protection from the flames, but there were no injuries.

While the Santiago Fire was burning there were nine other ongoing major fires which set up a competition for firefighting resources. The spread of this year’s Silverado Fire was essentially stopped after two days, but in 2007 there were not enough hand crews, engines, air tankers, and helicopters to keep it from crossing Santiago Canyon Road on day three when the wind shifted to come out of the west. After that, it got into steeper slopes with heavier vegetation in the Cleveland National Forest, and eventually burned twice as much as the Silverado Fire, 28,517 acres (as of Oct. 29, 2020) vs. 13,390 acres.

Santiago Fire, October, 2007
Santiago Fire, October, 2007. From the After Action Report.
Silverado Fire map, October 28, 2020.
Silverado Fire map, October 28, 2020.

The causes appear to be very different. An arsonist used an accelerant to start the Santiago Fire in two places. In spite of an Investigation Task force consisting of 160 persons from the Orange County Fire Authority, FBI, ATF, and the Sheriff’s Department, and a $250,000 reward, an arrest was never made.

Southern California Edison said it is investigating whether electrical equipment may have caused the Silverado fire. The company reported to the state Public Utilities Commission that a “lashing wire” attached to a third-party telecommunications line may have struck a primary conductor.

The 136-page After Action Report for the Santiago Fire is available on Orange County’s website.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Orange County’s Silverado Fire similar to 2007 Santiago Fire”

  1. This article reinforces an observation that I made long ago- that in southern California, a knowledge of the fire history of an area, including the fire spread perimeters and fire weather, would give one a good idea of how the next fire in that same area and under the same conditions would spread. Certain areas tend to have the “same” fire, over and over. This holds in other parts of the country, too, but in other places, a recent fire in the area of the current fire would tend to reduce the fuel bed enough that a new ignition would not be a repeat of the last fire.

  2. I remember 30 years ago when in Orange County California hiking the hills there observing the 6-7inches of grass duff on a hillside thinking the following… I don’t want to be here when this”hayloft”burns! It was all wild oats and mustard with a few relict native walnut trees and lots of eucalyptus! Needless to say it went up a month later evacuations and what not. That ecosystem is messed up and much more flammable than presettlment times!

Comments are closed.