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Investigators: Fireworks may have started blaze at Irvine Regional Park in Orange

Officials suspect fireworks are linked to the cause of a blaze that scorched 21 acres of the Irvine Regional Park in Orange over the weekend, investigators said Tuesday, July 7.

The fire began in the area of Peters Canyon Road at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the day after the July Fourth holiday. Details regarding its specific point of origin and exactly how it started were not immediately released.

“The probable cause of the fire at Irvine Regional Park is due to fireworks,” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen said.

Officials did not immediately discuss the nature of any evidence that might have led their suspicions. No possible suspects had been identified as of Tuesday.

No injuries or structure damage related to the fire were reported. Animals housed at the adjacent Orange County Zoo did not have to be evacuated, and none were hurt, Orange County Parks spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil said.

People in the area had been forced to leave after flames broke out and the park was closed on Sunday. It was mostly reopened by Monday morning, but Toyon Trail, Lone Pine Ridge Trail and the eastern portion of Horseshoe Loop trail remained off limits as of Tuesday, O’Neill said.

The burn scar was contained to a section of the park northeast of Santiago Creek, O’Neill said. The area will remain roped off as teams conduct ecological surveys and work to ensure the area is safe for humans and wildlife.

“Safety and habitat are always our top concerns after a fire,” O’Neill said.

An earlier blaze at Irvine Regional Park in 2010 happened in about the same area of the park that burned on Sunday, and had also been linked to fireworks, O’Neill said.

The fire on Sunday was just one of hundreds throughout Southern California that firefighters responded to over the holiday weekend. The period between Saturday evening and Sunday morning was the second busiest 24-hours ever recorded in Los County Fire Department history.

Concerns over the possible spread of COVID-19 led officials to cancel many major fireworks displays that had been planned for Saturday. However, residents in the San Fernando Valley, Riverside, Santa Ana and communities across California reported hearing mortars explode above them well into the evening as some turned to illegal fireworks to celebrate July Fourth. In Baldwin Park, two men died after handling fireworks that unexpectedly detonated.

Source: Orange County Register

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