Nearly 20,000 Chino Hills residents breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday night after all evacuation orders were lifted, following a tense 48 hours when the Blue Ridge Fire erupted Monday afternoon in Yorba Linda and began to spread north toward Chino Hills.
The fire blackened 14,334 acres, most of which were on San Bernardino County property and in the city of Chino Hills.
Flames came close to several Chino Hills homes in the southern area of the city, including Butterfield Ranch Road and near Butterfield Park on Mystic Canyon Drive.
Cal Fire crews spent most of Tuesday morning setting fire to dry brush on several hillsides in Chino Hills to help contain the fast-moving blaze.
About 56 percent of the 14,173-acre Chino Hills State Park burned, (see story on Page A6).
Evacuation orders were given to residents in the Butterfield Ranch area (west side of road from Pine Avenue to the 71 Freeway); south of Soquel Canyon Parkway (entire area of Bell Ridge Drive and Golden Terrace Drive, and Misty Hill Drive); the area north of Soquel Canyon Parkway (west of Wickman Elementary School); Carbon Canyon area (from the county line to Summit Ranch, including Sleepy Hollow, Hill of Hope, Hillcrest, Oak Tree Downs, Pine Valley Estates and Western Hills Estates); the Village Oaks area west of Peyton Drive near Bayberry Drive; and the entire Vellano community.
A total of 10,000 residents in 2,500 homes in Yorba Linda also evacuated. Evacuation orders were lifted in both cities at 5 p.m. Wednesday and no homes were damaged in Chino Hills, according city officials.
Ten homes were damaged and one home was destroyed in Yorba Linda, Cal Fire officials said.
The Blue Ridge Fire erupted at 12:56 p.m. at Blue Ridge Drive and Big Horn Mountain Way in Yorba Linda, located north of the 91 Freeway, south of Chino Hills State Park and near the Green River Golf Course.
More than 1,050 firefighters from Chino Valley Fire District, the Orange County Fire Authority, several fire departments in Southern California and at least three crews from the San Francisco Fire Department, were called to Chino Hills and Yorba Linda to control the blaze fueled by strong Santa Ana winds.
Six water-dropping aircraft helicopters were used as were seven water trucks, 14 bulldozers and 210 fire engines, Cal Fire officials reported.
Chino Valley Fire District officials said 19,730 people in 5,958 homes were evacuated starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Evacuation orders were given to other areas of the city throughout early Tuesday morning.
The City of Chino Hills opened the Chino Hills Community Center as an emergency evacuation center and the McCoy Equestrian Center as an animal evacuation center (see related story on Page A1). As of Champion press time Friday morning, the fire was 47 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.
Full containment of the blaze is expected on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Chino Valley Fire District Deputy Chief Scott Atkinson told the Chino Hills city council on Wednesday that firefighters faced "extreme fire weather" as sustained winds were clocked at 30 mph with wind gusts pushing 50 mph.
There was also 10 percent humidity, making for dry conditions. Deputy Chief Atkinson said fire crews were grateful for the support from the public.
"We want to thank the residents and the business community. The support has been overwhelming," he said. "People were bringing us food. It was just amazing to see."