Firefighters from multiple agencies are battling a 55-acre brush fire first reported shortly before 5 a.m. in the Bell Ridge area of The Cleveland National Forest, Orange County Fire Authority Captain and spokesman Larry Kurtz said.
Bell Ridge is near Holy Jim Canyon, east of Trabuco Canyon Road — several miles east of Rancho Santa Margarita.
“Our helicopters will begin making drops at first light,” Kurtz said. Four fixed-wing tanker planes are now dropping water and retardant on the flames.
“We’ve got light winds that aren’t affecting the fire too much, but we are seeing it make runs up the sides of the hills,” Kurtz said.
One firefighter was airlifted from the area after he sustained injuries while fighting the fire before 8 a.m. “The terrain is steep,” Kurts said. “It just made more sense to airlift him out.”
Initially, there were approximetly 50 firefighters working, what began as, a 7-acre pre-dawn fire. That number swelled to 150 by sunrise.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, and no structures are threatened at this time, Kurtz said. “There are no home evacuations pending, but we may evacuate the canyon down the line if this fire gets a whole lot bigger,” Kurtz said.