Officials: Reflection off sheet metal garden fence started Orange County's recent wildfire


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CORONA, California — A Southern California wildfire that prompted evacuations over the weekend in the Cleveland National Forest was started by the sun's rays reflecting off sheet metal that edged a homeowner's backyard garden, fire officials said Monday.

The 2-foot-tall metal fencing surrounded a vegetable garden and was intended to keep small rodents out, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.

The reflection off the sheet metal ignited a wooden border and nearby grass and then spread into Silverado Canyon, prompting the evacuation of 200 homes.

That evacuation order was lifted late Sunday and the 1½-square-miles fire was 80 percent contained on Monday. The blaze started Friday.

The homeowner will not be charged or fined for the accidental blaze, but fire officials said it's an important reminder to use mesh fencing instead of reflective material.

In the past, fires have started from similar reflections off broken pieces of glass or litter such as glass bottles and tin cans, Concialdi said.

"It just shows you how incredibly dry our vegetation and woods are now after three years of hard drought," he said.

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