Suspected drunk driver allegedly sparked 7-acre Santiago Canyon Fire after crash near 241 FWY

TUSTIN, Calif. (KABC) -- A man who was allegedly driving under the influence crashed into a telephone pole Thursday morning, sparking a 7-acre vegetation fire in the Santiago Canyon area near Tustin.

Investigators believe the blaze erupted after the car crash on Santiago Canyon Road near the 241 Freeway around 3:40 a.m., according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The newer-model Toyota Corolla was sheared in half and fully engulfed in flames. The driver is accused of traveling at a high rate of speed and losing control, sparking the fire on a nearby hillside, the California Highway Patrol said.

Eric Lopez, 26, of Orange, was booked on suspicion of DUI, said CHP Officer John DeMatteo. Lopez, who refused to take DUI tests, was transported to Orange County Global Medical Center to be treated for a broken clavicle, DeMatteo said.

An off-duty Orange County Sheriff's sergeant and good Samaritans helped Lopez, the CHP said.

Firefighters fully contained the fire after launching ground and air assaults, according to OCFA Capt. Paul Holaday.

"We'll continue to monitor it for any potential flare-ups,'' Holaday said.

Santiago Canyon Road from Loma Ridge Road to 241 was expected to remain closed until at least noon.

At 6:35 a.m., Caltrans reported that Southern California Edison had "de-energized various circuits in North Orange County.''

"This will have impacts to the lighting on SR-241 and SR-261,'' Caltrans said in a statement. "Please drive safely and treat any flashing red signals as a stop sign.''

Strong Santa Ana winds were pummeling the Southland Thursday morning, and expected to continue through Friday. The wind event was triggering fires across the region, including in San Bernardino County and Sonoma County, and creating an elevated risk of fire danger across the region.

City News Service contributed to this story.
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