Silverado Fire

The Silverado Fire[1] was a wildfire that burned in October and November 2020 in southern Orange County, California northeast of Irvine.[2] The fire started on October 26 around 6:47 AM near Orange County Route S-18 (Santiago Canyon Road) and Silverado Canyon Road, fueled by strong Santa Ana winds gusting up to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and low humidity.[3] Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy stated, "The winds were extraordinary even by Santa Ana standards. Fire spread is exceeding more than anything I've seen in my 44 years."[4] The fire initially moved south from Loma Ridge toward the Orchard Hills, Northwood and Portola Springs communities of Irvine before moving southeast through Limestone Canyon and toward the communities of Foothill Ranch and Lake Forest.[5][6] The fire burned in a path similar to that taken by the 2007 Santiago Fire, mostly through terrain that had not seen significant burning in the 13 years since that fire.[7] 100% containment was announced on November 7, 2020.

Silverado Fire
Silverado Fire.jpg
Silverado Fire seen near sunset on 26 October 2020 from Mission Viejo
LocationSantiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon roads, east of Irvine, in southern Orange County, California
Coordinates33°44′17″N 117°43′49″W / 33.737957°N 117.730187°W / 33.737957; -117.730187Coordinates: 33°44′17″N 117°43′49″W / 33.737957°N 117.730187°W / 33.737957; -117.730187
Date(s)October 26, 2020 (2020-10-26) – November 7, 2020
Burned area13,390 acres (5,419 ha)
CauseUnder Investigation
Non-fatal injuries2
Silverado Fire is located in California
Silverado Fire
Location in California

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Southern California Edison officials stated in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission that they suspect a "lashing wire" in one of their telecommunication lines may have caused the fire.[8]


Mandatory evacuation orders were issued by the Orange County Fire Authority and CalFire for approximately 90,000 residents and schools in the area.[9][10] The fire also caused California State Route 241 to temporarily shut down.[11][3]

Although there were no civilian casualties, two Orange County firefighters, 26 year old Dylan Van Iwaarden and 31 year old Phi Le, were severely burned battling the wildfire, receiving second and third degree burns over half their bodies and hospitalized in critical condition.[12][4][13] Van Iwaarden had burns on 65% of his body and Le had burns on 50% of his body.[14] The firefighters were reportedly trapped by flames in what may have been a failed backburning attempt. Six other firefighters in the same crew reported singes to their hair and eyebrows.[15] A socially distant blood drive was held in Santa Ana to help the firefighters, and over $215,000 was raised in two days via online crowdsourcing to aid with medical expenses.[16][14]

On November 7, firefighters reached 100% containment of the fire.[11][4]

On February 17, 2021, firefighter Dylan Van Iwaarden was released from the Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana after spending 114 days there, undergoing a medically induced coma and 17 surgeries.[13]


The fire consumed 13,390 acres, destroying one structure and two minor structures, and damaging five others.[17] The burn scar of the fire aided in the stoppage of the Bond Fire, another wildfire that took place in the area only a month later.[18]

The fire partially destroyed a 6.1-acre area along Agua Chinon Creek and around Limestone Canyon Regional Park that had recently been the subject of a five-year project to restore the nature to its native setting. The seed farm facility used for the project was also burned during the wildfire. Some trees and vegetation were burned while others weren't in what officials described as a "checkerboard pattern" of damage.[19]

The burn scars of the Silverado and Bond fires coupled with a winter rain storm caused a series of mudflows on the evening of January 28, 2021. Mudflows occurred near the Bond Fire scar causing road blockages; however, structural damages were not reported in the Silverado Fire burn scar area.[20]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Alma Fausto, Erika I. Ritchie (October 26, 2020). "70,000 told to evacuate as Silverado fire quickly swells to 500 acres". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  2. ^ Jorge Fitz-Gibbon (October 26, 2020). "Silverado Fire: California blaze forces 70,000 to evacuate". New York Post. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Alex Wigglesworth, Hayley Smith (October 26, 2020). "Wind-driven brush fire in Orange County spreading quickly". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Silverado Fire Containment Increases, Evacuations Lifted". NBC Los Angeles. October 30, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Noah Biesiada (October 26, 2020). "Silverado Canyon Fire Spreads, Mandatory Evacuation in Irvine as Firefighters Battle High Winds". Voice of OC. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Andrew Freedman (October 26, 2020). "California wildfires break out amid powerful Santa Ana winds". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  7. ^ "Orange County's Silverado Fire similar to 2007 Santiago Fire". Wildfire Today. October 29, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Madani, Doha (October 27, 2020). "Cause of Southern California fire that forced thousands to evacuate may be 'lashing wire'". NBC News. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  9. ^ Tim Arango, Ivan Penn, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs (October 27, 2020). "90,000 Told to Flee as California Fires Nearly Double in Size". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Ruben Vives; Stephanie Lai; et al. (October 26, 2020). "70,000 evacuated in Orange County as wind-driven brush fire rapidly swells to 2,000 acres". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Silverado Fire (2020)". Cal Fire. October 26, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Chris Woodyard, Jordan Culver (October 26, 2020). "Two firefighters badly burned as wildfires in California prompt evacuation of 70,000 in posh Irvine neighborhoods". USA Today. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "O.C. firefighter burned in last October's Silverado Fire to be released from hospital". KTLA 5. February 16, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "More than $215,000 raised to help firefighters injured in Silverado Fire". ABC 7 Eyewitness News. October 28, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  15. ^ "2 firefighters critically burned battling Silverado Fire likely shouldn't have been there: Investigation report". KTLA 5. December 3, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  16. ^ "Blood drive helps 2 Orange County firefighters injured in Silverado Fire". ABC 7 Eyewitness News. November 19, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  17. ^ "Silverado fire 40% contained, all remaining evacuation orders lifted". Orange County Register. October 29, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  18. ^ Johnson, R. J. (December 3, 2020). "House Fire Sparks Brush Fire in Silverado Canyon, 7,200 Acres Burned". KFI AM 640. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Valot, Susan (December 14, 2020). "OC Silverado Fire: A test of whether native plant restoration methods work". KCRW. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  20. ^ "Storm Triggers Mudslides In Silverado Canyon Burn Areas". CBS Los Angeles. January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 30, 2021.

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