Report: Canyon 2 Fire Was Set in Motion by a Chain of Missteps and Complacency

The Orange County Fire Authority has released a scathing investigative report blaming complacency and a breach of protocol by OCFA personnel for a fire that burned over 2,000 acres and destroyed 25 structures last October.

The report on the Canyon 2 blaze was commissioned by the OCFA and released at the agency’s board meeting late last month. The Orange County Register obtained a copy of the document which is expected to be made available to the public soon.

It found the following:

• OCFA dispatchers dismissed two separate reports of flames and smoke that came into 911 on Oct. 9, 2017 in direct violation of department protocol. They similarly ignored six reports from other firefighters and park rangers about an active fire in the area.

• By the time OCFA launched an appropriate response, the blaze was out of control. Additionally, there was a 44-minute delay between the discovery of the fire and the decision to alert other agencies.

• California Highway Patrol also received and dismissed ten 911 calls regarding suspected fires in the area. CHP didn’t even transfer the calls to the Fire Department, instead relaying what OCFA dispatchers had said about a previous call -- that what witnesses were seeing was leftover smoke from a previous fire.

• Dispatchers were likely suffering from “smoke fatigue” after receiving numerous calls about smoke in the area due an earlier fire that had been extinguished.

• An OCFA supervisor was unaware that wind conditions had led to a “high fire danger” warning for the area.

• CHP officials attempted to impede the investigation into the Cayon 2 Fire response by withholding evidence.

The Canyon 2 Fire represents “an important case study in how miscalculations and missteps in small but critical areas can result in significant damages… to a community,” according to the report’s authors.

A separate report recommending disciplinary action for OCFA employees is expected soon. 


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