A fire destroyed 100 acres of the Cleveland National Forest just beyond the Orange County line Saturday before about 200 Orange County, state and federal forestry firefighters began to contain it.
A spokesman said that firefighters would work through the night and expected to have the blaze contained by 6 a.m.
"It's very rugged brush, really heavy," said Dick Marlow, public affairs officer for the national forest. By late Saturday night, firefighters had cut half a mile of breaks through the brush and planned to cut another mile and a half.
The fire began about a mile east of the Orange-Riverside County border, just outside a tiny community two miles south of Lower San Juan Campground, and winds quickly fanned the flames eastward into thicker forest and brush, Marlow said.
Playing With Matches
The cause, he said, was children playing with matches, but he was unable to say whether the children had been identified.
Once the fire hit the thicker forest, Marlow said, it stalled, partly because of firefighting efforts. By 5:30 p.m., the fire was 20% contained, he said.
"The forest, for the most part, got very little rain in the recent storms along the coast," he said. "It's still extremely dry here."
An area resident reported the fire to the Orange County Fire Department at 12:50 p.m. The county responded with five units and called the national Forest Service.
Also joining in the battle to halt the fire was the California Department of Forestry. In all, Marlow said, about 200 firefighters were trying to contain and control the blaze.
"When you're talking about cutting through all that brush by hand, it takes a lot of manpower," he said.
The fire started about a mile east of the Orange County line and a few miles south of the Ortega Highway, he said.
Seven hand crews from three national forests, 15 engines, two helicopters and five air tankers were being used to control the fire. No structures were threatened. One Orange County firefighter suffered a bee sting but was not hospitalized.