Saturday, November 15, 2008

Corona Fire Sparks Brush In Yorba Linda

Twelve structures were damaged and immediate evacuations have been ordered in Corona and Yorba Linda because of a brush fire that started alongside the Riverside (91) Freeway.

Firefighters sent out a request for assistance to evacuate near the intersection of Crestridge and Crestline streets, just north of the Riverside (91) Freeway near Green River Road.

"We have about the whole Green River community here in our restaurant right now," said Backwoods Barbecue waitress Samantha Cortez. Cortez estimated about 60 Green River residents were there at 10:40 a.m.

The fire in Corona quickly sparked brush in Yorba Linda, burning up to 1,000 acres and damaging 12 structures. Authorities say one home in Maryweather Circle is in eminent danger.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect for Gypsum Canyon East.

A command post was being set up outside the restaurant, at 4300 Green River Road, according to the CHP.

The 91 Freeway was closed between Green River Road and the Corona (71) Expressway at 9:45 a.m. Traffic is also being stopped on the Riverside (91) Freeway between Orange and Riverside counties.

Fire crews from Orange County, Riverside County and Corona are responding.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County, opening the way to additional resources.

Police closed down Interstate 5, the main freeway linking Los Angeles to the north, and other roads as 600 firefighters mobilized. Transmission lines bringing power follow the Interstate highway 5 corridor through the mountains north of Los Angeles, home to nearly 10 million.

Mountains were engulfed in flames and billows of smoke visible from space by weather satellite. Steady gale-force winds, blowing at 35 mph, periodically gusted up to 75 mph and spread the fire. A map of the fire is at

Residents of a destroyed mobile home park sat in the gymnasium of the Sylmar High School, where the American Red Cross had set up relief services.

"You could see absolutely nothing," said Jackie Burns, 77, who, along with her husband, Len, fled their mobile home at 3 a.m. as the fire raged through the neighborhood. "It was like looking into a black hole. It looked like the end of the world to me."


California's fire season, which traditionally starts in June, has been lengthening and getting worse as the dry state adds homes in fringe areas prone to flames.

Los Angeles has been largely spared damage this year. In October of last year 30 blazes raged across Southern California, forcing evacuation of more than 500,000 people and damaging some 2,000 homes.

Firefighters are trying to stop the new blaze before it reaches Santa Clarita, a bedroom community about 40 miles from the center of Los Angeles with 180,000 population.

A second fire ravaged hills above Southern California's Santa Barbara coast for a second day after roaring through the exclusive Montecito enclave leveling 111 homes.

Those reported to have lost houses in the community dubbed "America's Riviera" included actor Christopher Lloyd, best known as the zany scientist in "Back to the Future".

The area remains on "red flag" warning for more fires, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"It's the dry conditions that make it perfect for more fires," he said.

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