The Canyon 2 Fire that burned 9,200 acres and destroyed or damaged 60 homes started from an ember that blew from the previous Canyon Fire that blackened 4,300 acres south of the 91 Freeway between Anaheim and Corona, California.
The cause of the Canyon 2 Fire was released Monday by Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman. According to the LA Times, Chief Bruegmann said the ember originated about 20 feet inside the fireline of the first fire, the Canyon Fire, and was blown about 50 feet into brush outside the line.
The Canyon fire damaged four homes and started July 25 when a Caltrans road flare was knocked off the 91 Freeway into grass by a passing vehicle. The Canyon 2 Fire began October 9.
Interim Chief of the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), Patrick McIntosh revealed October 25 that the first full dispatch of fire suppression equipment to the Canyon 2 Fire occurred 71 minutes after the first report of “smoke and flames”. By the time the first units arrived, the new fire was well established. The Chief said he would recommend to the County Board of Supervisors an independent review be conducted of how the fire was handled.
The OCFA has the responsibility under a contract for suppressing vegetation fires within Anaheim city limits. Monday the LA Times reported Anaheim Chief Bruegman said that arrangement is currently under review.
Of course hindsight is always 20/20, and investigations could confirm this or not — but a person could argue that if the OCFA had done two things differently, there may have been a vastly different outcome for the Canyon 2 Fire.
Thorough mopup of the first fire, the Canyon Fire. Most wildfires are completely extinguished hundreds of feet inside the fireline or perimeter. The ember that the wind blew from the fire 15 days after it started, was only 20 feet from the perimeter.
A reasonably quick and aggressive attack of the new fire, the Canyon 2 Fire, rather than a 71 minute delay.
Above: Map of the Canyon Fire at 7:50 p.m. PDT September 26, 2017.
(Updated at 8:37 a.m. PDT September 27, 2017)
Firefighters have had some success battling the Canyon Fire just southwest of Corona, California. On Tuesday it spread very little, however still remaining unburned islands of vegetation within the perimeter continued to put up smoke.
According to the Wednesday morning official update from the Incident Management Team evacuation orders are still in effect for all areas south of Green River Road from State Route 91 to W. Foothill Parkway, including the Skyline Drive Area. Eight schools in the area will continue to be closed on Wednesday, September 27.
The updated perimeter map shows that the fire burned well into housing developments on the west side of Corona but the incident management team reports that three structures were damaged but no homes were destroyed. This is a result of several things: outstanding efforts by firefighters who battled the flames and ember showers, the residents who prepared their properties well in advance to be more fire resistant, and the work by local agencies to educate citizens about how to live in a fire-prone environment.
Streets that were heavily impacted by the fire include San Viscaya Circle, San Ponte Road, San Ramon Drive, Oakridge Drive, Elderberry Circle, Goldenbush Drive, Bulrush Circle, Sageleaf Circle, Canyon Crest Drive, Wilderness Drive, and Hidden Hills Way.
Resources assigned to the fire include 272 engines, 10 water tenders, 11 helicopters, 10 dozers, and 30 hand crews for a total of 1,652 personnel. Two of the helicopters, from Orange County and the U.S. Forest Service, are capable of making water drops at night,
Our unofficial estimate shows that the fire has burned approximately 2,650 acres, but Wednesday morning the Incident Management Team is sticking with their 2,000-acre figure they have been using for several days.
Below are some of the best images and videos posted over the last couple of days about the fire on Twitter and Instagram.
(Originally published at 8:22 a.m PDT September 2, 2017)
The Canyon Fire that started Monday afternoon south of Highway 91 in Orange County, California remained active overnight on the slopes above Corona after spreading into Riverside County. Evacuations are still in effect for areas on the southwest side of the city.
Three night-flying helicopters worked the fire Monday night, dropping water to assist firefighters on the ground. At least eight air tankers will be available on the fire Tuesday, including a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker.
The fire is burning on the northern end of the Cleveland National Forest near the North Main Divide and has reached Sierra Peak, the home of many communication towers and facilities. Firefighters in that area are reporting long-range spotting, even before 8 a.m.
The last size reported by fire personnel was 2,000 acres.
The wind slowed Monday night and the relative humidity increased in the valleys below the fire, but at 7:30 a.m. the fire was putting up a large column of smoke southwest of Corona. During the night the humidity remained in the teens at several weather stations in the hills above the valleys at the same elevation as the main portion of the fire. This could account for the very active fire behavior early Tuesday morning even with very little wind.
The weather forecast is not in favor of the firefighters. The wind on Tuesday is expected to increase to 10-16 mph with gusts above 20 mph, while the temperature will be in the high 80s with the relative humidity in the high teens. The wind will be generally from the east until noon, when it should switch to come out of the west and southwest. Wind shifts like this are dangerous for firefighters.
Above: The red squares on the map represent heat detected on the Canyon Fire by a satellite at 1:52 p.m. not long after it started September 25, 2017. The arrows directly east of the red squares show the approximate spread of the fire over the next seven hours.
(Updated at 11:58 p.m. PDT September 26, 2017)
The Canyon Fire was reported around 1 p.m. PDT on Monday in southern California near Coal Canyon Road south of Highway 91. It was initially pushed to the southwest by a northeast wind. With single-digit relative humidities it spread rapidly, but by 4 p.m. the wind direction changed and began coming from the opposite direction, the southwest, at 12 to 15 mph which caused the fire to spread east more than two miles over the next five hours, approaching the outskirts of Corona.
Click HERE for the latest articles about the Canyon Fire on Wildfire Today.
By 6:15 p.m. PDT Monday evacuations had been ordered for all homes in Corona south of Green River Road from the 91 Freeway to Trudy Way, including the Orchard Glen Tract.
At about 9 p.m. the Corona Fire Department estimated the fire had burned approximately 2,000 acres.
One of the first heavily populated areas hit by the Canyon Fire were the structures on the west side of Corona on San Ramon Drive and San Alvarado Circle where fire engines from Anaheim and other fire departments battled ember showers for hours, protecting the residences. At times night-flying helicopters supported them with water drops. EPN564 broadcast live several times on Periscope; some of his “scopes” may still be available to view.
The Canyon Fire appeared to start in Orange County then moved into Riverside County and later the city of Corona. There was a report that the communications sites on Sierra Peak in the Cleveland National Forest were seriously threatened. (see map)
The Orange County Fire Authority reported at 11:30 p.m. Monday that one home had been damaged. In addition, the cargo in a trailer pulled by a semi truck caught fire while traveling on Highway 91. The driver pulled over and disconnected the burning trailer from the tractor.
On September 19, 2016, two days after the fire started, approximately 50+ firefighters were assigned to Division Zulu on the north side of Honda Canyon (about a mile east of the site where four Air Force firefighters were entrapped and killed on the Honda Fire in 1977).
Assigned to the division on the Canyon that day in 2016 were 8 engines, 4 dozers, 1 water tender, and a 20-person hand crew comprised of 3 helitack crews. All were ordered by the Division Supervisor to take refuge in a safety zone.
After observing conditions that morning last September the tactic decided on was to fire out the ridge on the north side of Honda Canyon, which runs east and west. The main fire was to the south on the other side of the canyon. The operation was going well until the intensity in the burnout increased dramatically; fire whirls developed and the fire began spreading to the west more quickly than the igniters and holders could keep up with it.
The Division Supervisor ordered, “All Division Zulu resources pull back to the safety zone”. Even though some of the personnel were about 600 to 700 yards from the safety zone, the smoke-obscured visibility occasionally made movement difficult or impossible. At times the engines had to stop when they could not see the ground in front of them. Burning embers, some of them fist-sized, pelted the vehicles and the 20 people in the hand crew that were walking to the safety zone.
In the video below, it appears to have taken about 10 minutes to travel the 600 to 700 yards. The recording shows how harrowing it must have been as day turned to night. At least two firefighters were later transported to a hospital suffering from smoke inhalation injuries.
The video is incredible and at times has on the screen views from three different cameras, apparently time-synced. Pretty impressive editing (by Mark Pieper and Tony Petrilli) for a government-produced video. The maps and annotated still images are also very useful.
Some firefighters, approximately two, removed their fire shelters from their gear. One was fully deployed and another was partially unfolded.
From the report:
When asked: “How scared were you on a scale of 1 to 10?” multiple crew members replied “9” and “10.”
We covered the Canyon Fire as it was burning and thought we were aware of the major developments at the incident, but we did not hear about this entrapment until today, March 27, 2017. Maybe we missed it, but it is possible that the fact that it occurred on a military base influenced an apparent desire to keep it low key, even though a California Type 2 Incident Management Team had assumed command of the fire the morning of the incident and, according to the report, “did start Regional notification regarding the shelter deployment”.
The Incident Commander and the Deputy IC were first notified more than three hours after the entrapment.
In spite of the late release of the information, firefighters can benefit from this lessons learned opportunity and the fact that the preparers of the report conducted it in such a way that there were apparently few if any efforts among those involved to “lawyer up” and shut up fearing litigation or prosecution. Many still and video images were made available and at least enough of the firefighters were willing to talk about what happened to allow a useful report to be completed.
Maybe the way this review was conducted can be a template to reverse the recent trend of investigations that are not as useful as they could be.
On September 21, 2016 a Ventura County Fire Department firefighter was killed in a vehicle accident while responding to the Canyon Fire. Fire Engineer Ryan Osler, a passenger in a water tender, lost his life. The driver of the truck self-extracted and was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.