Environment & Science

Canyon Fires were caused by accidental shrub fire, wind-blown embers

The Canyon Fire burns in the Anaheim area on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
The Canyon Fire burns in the Anaheim area on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue (via Twitter)

The causes of the two Canyon Fires that blazed through Orange County in September and October were announced Monday by fire officials. 

Canyon Fire, which scorched more than 2,600 acres in late September, began with an accidental shrub fire south of the 91 Freeway and Coal Canyon. Anaheim Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman said the spark came from a road flare placed on the freeway by the California Department of Transportation.

"It is likely that another vehicle struck the flare, causing it to spin off the freeway into the shrub," Bruegman said. The fire damaged three homes.

Canyon Fire 2, the devastating blaze that consumed more than 9,700 acres in early October, started with a smoldering oak ember from the first fire. It traveled at least 60 feet to ignite the second fire with the help of a strong Santa Ana wind, Bruegman said. It became Southern California's most damaging fire of 2017.


The response to Canyon Fire 2 came under scrutiny shortly after the fire was contained, as a dispute between the OC Fire Authority and Sheriff's Department spurred allegations that the Fire Authority did not take initial reports seriously enough. 

Following the fire, Bruegman said, Anaheim has changed its policy in order to immediately respond to any fire reported in their jurisdiction and will no longer wait for other agencies.


Canyon Fire 2 was included in Gov. Jerry Brown's state of emergency declaration over other deadly fires in Northern California. In mid-October, Brown announced victims of the fire were eligible for direct federal aid.

Watch the full press conference below: