July 18, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Fast-moving Silverado Fire forces evacuations at Northwood, Portola and other schools

Smoke from the Silverado Fire could be seen from many locations in Irvine Monday, including Northwood High School. (Photo courtesy Ernie Medina, For OC Sports Zone)

Evacuations were conducted at elementary, middle school and Portola and Northwood high schools in the Irvine Unified School District after the Silverado Fire broke out Monday morning, according to Annie Brown, public information officer for IUSD.

District officials added that all district schools will be closed on Tuesday, Oct. 27 and that there will be no instruction. They added that more than 60,000 Irvine residents have been evacuated. Irvine, University and Woodbridge high schools will be used as temporary shelters for those who have been displaced by the fire, officials added.

The Orange County Fire Authority website reported Monday night that the fire has spread to 7,200 acres with no containment and that 500 firefighters are battling the blaze. Earlier, the authority said there are mandatory evacuations for Orchard Hills from Bake Parkway to Jamboree Road. The 241 is closed from Santiago Canyon to the 133, according to the website.

Ashes from the fire were spreading as far as Garden Grove and a number of Irvine residents took to social media to share pictures of the fast-moving fire.

Crean Lutheran High School officials safely evacuated students, administrators and teachers earlier Monday and the Irvine Unified School District followed similar action. Portola and Northwood were the two high schools in Irvine evacuated, but no students had to be evacuated because it was a planned hybrid only day.

“Today, our middle and high schools were not in session: only elementary. However, staff and few programs were on high school and middle school campuses so they evacuated,” Brown said in an Email to OC Sports Zone.

“IUSD worked closely with the Orange County Fire Authority and the Irvine Police Department to monitor the situation and provide direction to our schools and families,” IUSD officials said in a statement on their website.

Most parents were able to pick up their children at the schools after being notified, district officials said. Those who could not were advised to pick up their children at Irvine High School. Students were bused from their schools to Irvine High.

“Yes campus was evacuated this morning,” said Brandon Emery, co-athletic director at Northwood High in an Email. “Fortunately there were no students on campus as Mondays do not have classes.

“It was a virtual day for IUSD high schools so most all were still home,” said Peter Abe, Portola athletic director and head football coach said in a text Monday afternoon to OC Sports Zone. “They sent any on campus staff home a few hours ago that were working early.

“Communities began to evacuate per city officials request and just checking to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for. The smoke is thick with winds moving it all over the city.”

Northwood High plant superviser Ernie Medina said he noticed the fire at 7:27 a.m.

“The fire looked like it was really close by,” he said in a text Monday afternoon. “I drove up to the top of Wolf Trail and saw the massive smoke clouds and my first reaction was…..’this is not good, flashbacks of 2008 fires around the back of Northwood High before we had homes.'”

“Leslie (principal Roach), Eric (Keith, vice principal), Kortney Tambara (assistant principal) and I were the last to leave and we evacuated school at 8:45 a.m.”

MANDATORY EVACUATIONS IN IUSD:

Canyon View Elementary School

Eastwood Elementary School

Loma Ridge Elementary School

Northwood High School

Portola Springs Elementary School

Santiago Hills Elementary School

Stonegate Elementary School

SUGGESTED EVACUATIONS:

Beacon Park K-8 School

Brywood Elementary School

Cadence Park K-8 School

Cypress Village Elementary School

Jeffrey Trail Middle School

Northwood Elementary School

Portola High School

Sierra Vista Middle School

Woodbury Elementary School

Brown said the district will contine to provide updates on its web page.

“We would like to extend a special thank you to our school staff, students and families, who responded quickly and calmly during this rapidly evolving situation,” according to the release from IUSD. “We would also like to thank the Irvine Police Department and the Orange County Fire Authority for their partnership and diligent work to keep our community safe.”

The Orange County Fire Authority reported that two firefighters, ages 26 and 31, both suffered second and third degree burns fighting the fire.

Abe, the Portola athletic director, said his football team was not scheduled to practice Monday but IUSD officials informed coaches of all athletic teams that practices were cancelled.

Orange County fire authorities are advising residents to go to the City of Irvine website: cityofirvine.org for additional details on evacuation plans.

Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com