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Blustery Santa Anas Cause Little Damage

November 24, 1986|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

Strong, continuing Santa Ana winds on Sunday caused anxiety for firefighters and police in Orange County, but no major fires or structural damage, officials reported.

The hot, dry winds rushed in from the high desert areas onto the county's coastal plains. The National Weather Service said the winds gusted up to 35 m.p.h. during the day, but decreased somewhat by Sunday night.

The strongest gusts hit Orange County during the predawn hours, with the peak velocity measured at 35 m.p.h. about 3 a.m. in El Toro, the National Weather Service said.

Lighter winds were forecast for today, the weather service said.

A small fire about 1 p.m. Sunday near an apartment complex in Buena Park caused tenants and firefighters alike some tense moments until it was extinguished.

The blaze involved a leaking propane bottle that fueled a tar-pot heating unit. The heater was being used to melt tar for roof repairs, and firefighters said the high winds made the situation particularly threatening.

However, Buena Park firefighters put out the fire in the blazing tar pot and propane bottle with only about $400 in heat and smoke damage to a carport area at the apartment complex in the 7400 block of Franklin Avenue.

A man working with the roofing tar--identified as Ciro Ibarra, 60, of Stanton--suffered a burn on his right arm and sought private treatment, Buena Park Fire Department Capt. James Foley said.

Foley said that residents of three apartments were evacuated briefly while firefighters extinguished the fire. He said the blaze threatened to explode the propane gas bottle, but flames were put out within minutes after firefighters arrived.

In nearby Riverside County, billowing smoke from a 30-acre brush fire in Lake Elsinore prompted many concerned calls to the Orange County Fire Department. The Sunday afternoon fire was confined to an uninhabited area of the city and did not threaten homes, said Capt. Tom Ramsey of the Riverside County Fire Department.

"We've got it pretty well under control, but we'll be watching the area all night," Ramsey said late Sunday afternoon.

He said illegal dumping at the vacant site, off Riverside Drive, between Collier and Gunnerson streets, is the suspected cause of the brush fire.

In Orange County, the blustery, dry winds prompted fire departments to call a special alert because of the potential danger. Tinder-like brush on the hillsides and in the canyons often bursts into raging fires because of carelessly discarded cigarettes or matches during Santa Ana wind conditions, fire officials said.

"But we haven't had any fires today (Sunday), and we're happy and a little surprised," an Orange County Fire Department dispatcher said.

More Equipment Than Normal

The dispatcher noted that more equipment than normal would routinely be dispatched in event of a fire during the Santa Ana winds.

Normal "nuisance" damage from the winds occurred around the county. These damages included shingles blown from roofs, fallen tree limbs, broken windows, downed utility wires and false calls from hundreds of burglar alarms at homes and businesses.

In Fullerton, police reported that the winds on Sunday morning knocked down tree limbs along Harbor Boulevard, south of Bastanchury Road. No injuries or major property damage was reported.

In Santa Ana, the winds downed some utility lines in the 800 block of South Harbor Boulevard, said the Santa Ana Fire Department.

"There's been a lot of wind and a lot of silent alarms going off, but they all proved to be false," Orange Police Department Sgt. Barry Weinstein said.

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