On Monday, October 26, at around 8 a.m., I woke up to a windy morning and the smell of smoke. I then received an unexpected call from my friend, who is also my neighbor, letting me know that we had to evacuate immediately. Confused, I looked outside the window and saw that the sky was completely orange and filled with intense smoke. The firetrucks and police cars on the streets in front of my house announced through loudspeakers that everyone must leave immediately. Because we were in a rush, I was able to take only a few necessities, such as my phone, laptop, and school materials, leaving everything else behind?no extra clothes, toiletries, or other personal items.
The Silverado Canyon fire started at 6:47 a.m., burning roughly 10 acres, but it spread to 7,200 acres by 4:30 p.m. at 0% containment, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The location of the fire grew closer and was approaching the Irvine area fast. My neighborhood, the Reserve at the Orchard Hills, was especially at risk due to our proximity to the blaze, and was called for mandatory evacuation along with other residences. Driving away from our neighborhood, I witnessed many families frantically packing their belongings into their cars and getting ready to leave as well.
Many people evacuated to areas such as San Diego, Fullerton, and Costa Mesa. Some went to their relatives or close friend’s houses whereas others, including myself, stayed at a hotel. There were also some shelters provided at Irvine churches. Irvine Unified District announced the closure of schools and campuses until the wildfire died down, in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
Over 90,000 Irvine residents were forced to evacuate. A few people sent me photos of our school’s bushes catching fire, causing emotional reactions from students. “This is such a horrible thing to experience…I can’t imagine my home burning down,” said Alexis Nguyen, one of the residents at the Reserve. We hope that everyone, including the brave firefighters, stay safe during this time of fear and worry. While the evacuation of most homes in Irvine were lifted by day 3 of the fire, the threat of another is still there during the season of dry, hot, and windy days. Hopefully, the wildfires will be put to an end soon, so that everyone can return safely to their homes.