A fire, swept by gusting Santa Ana winds, scorched the Anaheim Hills today, threatening thousands of homes and forcing the evacuation of local schools, including Santiago Canyon College. The firestorm is the second major fire to occur in the Anaheim Hills area within two weeks.
The blaze, dubbed Canyon Fire #2, began near the intersection of the 91 Freeway and the 241 Toll Road about 9:20 a.m., said Anaheim Fire Department Spokesperson Sgt. Daron Wyatt.
“We were just asking cops around the area. We weren’t too sure because there was fire everywhere,” said SCC freshman Jennifer Rodriguez. “My friends on Snapchat were posting insane videos of the smoke hovering over the campus. We called 10 minutes later and nobody was answering. Then we got the alert.”
Santiago Canyon students are also reporting the fire spread into the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, about 100 feet from campus.
As the fire neared campus and billows of smoke filled the air, Rancho Santiago Community College District officials ordered students and faculty to evacuate the area about 1:30 p.m.
As of 3 p.m., an estimated 2,500 acres were burned with zero percent containment, an Anaheim Fire Department official said. Multiple media reports said at least six homes burned down during their live broadcast.
About 200 firefighters were also on the ground, with one firefighter suffering minor injuries and transported to UCI Medical Center.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for Orange Park Acres, North Tustin and East Orange.
In an emergency notice by the district, night classes were canceled at Santa Ana College and the campus was declared closed at about 5 p.m.
Additional reporting by Angel Ramirez
UPDATE (8:12 p.m.):
Santiago Canyon College will remain closed through tomorrow with all classes canceled.
All other Rancho Santiago Community College District campuses and offices, including Santa Ana College, will open tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 10.
“Santiago Canyon College students and staff are advised to check the campus website, Facebook and Twitter for updates on Wednesday classes,” the District said in a statement.