More than half of Chino Hills State Park burned

The boundary of Chino Hills State Park is outlined in green and the Blue Ridge Fire is shown overlaid in a white and red perimeter. The map was created by Hills for Everyone based on data from CalFire and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Roughly 7,960 acres of the 14,100-acre Chino Hills State Park burned in the Blue Ridge Fire from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, according to an estimate provided by Hills for Everyone, the organization that founded the State Park.

Hills for Everyone technical director Melanie Schlotterbeck said this amounts to 56 percent of the State Park, based on a Cal Fire briefing and pulling together sources from publicly available maps and overlaying the data.

Of the 7,960 acres that burned, 6,300 were in the Chino Hills portion of the State Park, Ms. Schlotterbeck said.

The fire burned all the way to the Bane Canyon entrance road at Elinvar Drive and Sapphire Road on the Chino Hills side.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “Hopefully, the animals were able to escape to the east or west. It appeared at times to have a slow advancement which would give them time to outrun the flames.”

Ms. Schlotterbeck said the fire’s footprint very closely overlaps with the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire.

“So many of these plants have burned recently and could very well struggle in their recovery,” she said.

The Freeway Complex fire that occurred in November 2008 burned 13,800 acres of the park, or 95 percent, forcing its closure for 2½ months.

Burned areas

The Rolling M Barn, ranger house, and campground appear to be fine but the wooden bridges were lost in Lower Aliso Canyon, Ms. Schlotterbeck said.

On the Orange County side, key locations that burned included Brush Canyon and Blue Mud Canyon, she said. 

Ms. Schlotterbeck said the   320-acre acquisition from July burned almost entirely.

The ridgeline land, formerly owned by Shopoff Realty Investments, was acquired for Chino Hills State Park in a transaction shepherded by Hills for Everyone.

“The two acquisitions we’re currently working on burned in their entirety but this should not impact the transaction,” Ms. Schlotterbeck said.

The park will remain closed while staff evaluates the impacts, she said.

Hills for Everyone will work closely with State Parks, the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, and others to determine the next steps to help restore the charred landscape, she said.

Ms. Schlotterbeck said the diligent work of the firefighters in very difficult conditions reduced the spread of the fire and saved homes at the wildland-urban interface.

“Let’s hope the cause is determined so we can prevent these fires from occurring in the first place,” she said.

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