Will voters forced to evacuate Southern California wildfires get an extension to cast ballots?

Will voters forced to evacuate Southern California wildfires get an extension to cast ballots?

Massive wildfires in Southern California this week have forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes while firefighters battle the flames.

In the city of Irvine, about an hour south of Los Angeles, residents on Monday had to evacuate after the Silverado Fire broke out. Later, the Blue Ridge Fire, a few miles away, sent people fleeing from the Yorba Linda area. More than 100,000 people were under evacuation orders.  

Firefighter Raymond Vasquez battles the Silverado Fire Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Irvine, Calif. 

Firefighter Raymond Vasquez battles the Silverado Fire Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Irvine, Calif.  (AP)

The fires come exactly one week before the 2020 presidential election. But it was unclear whether those impacted by the fires would be granted an extension to cast their ballot.

Neal Kelley, the Registrar of Voters for Orange County, told Fox News that Nov. 3 – as of right now – remains a “firm deadline” but election officials are closely monitoring the situation as it develops.

“Because there have been multiple options voters (as opposed to a single day to vote, no absentee, etc. like in some other states) that decision will depend on conditions as we move closer to opening our voter centers on Friday,” Kelley said.  

Irvine retains multiple drop boxes around the city as an alternative for voters. City Clerk Molly Perry told Fox News that out of 10 ballot drop boxes throughout the city, only two — at 5701 Trabuco Road and 1300 Sanctuary — have been closed due to the fire. 

CALIFORNIA’S DIRE CORONAVIRUS PREDICTION WAS WRONG, HOSPITALIZATIONS WENT DOWN INSTEAD

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said most of the evacuees are in “non-congregate shelters” pursuant to the state’s COVID-19 protocols.

“Most of them are in settings that allow people to isolate, focused on their health, not just their safety in hotels and motels,” Newsom said.

The Democratic Governor said the Silverado Fire has, as of Tuesday morning, has scorched more than 11,000 acres and is 5% contained, while the Blue Ridge Fire has taken 15,200 acres and is 0% contained.

At least 10 homes have been damaged and crews protected hundreds more as winds pushed flames down ridges toward neighborhoods. Forecasts call for Santa Ana winds to keep blowing over much of Southern California, with some of the strongest gusts howling through Orange County, where the major blazes are.

The gusts were so strong Monday that they toppled several semi-trucks on highways and forced firefighters to ground their aircraft, though they got back up by late afternoon.

COLORADO WILDFIRES HIT WITH SNOW IN ‘WELCOME SIGHT’ FOR FIREFIGHTERS

Two firefighters, one 26 and the other, 31, were critically injured while battling the larger blaze near Irvine, according to the county’s Fire Authority. They each suffered second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies and were getting help breathing at a hospital.

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Southern California Edison cut power to about 38,000 homes and businesses, although it restored some power by Monday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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