Fire in Santa Clarita burns 350 acres; evacuation orders lifted – Los Angeles Times
A fast-moving brush fire in Santa Clarita continued to grow Wednesday night, scorching 350 acres as firefighters fought to keep flames from destroying hundreds of homes.
The fire started about 1:10 p.m. off the 5 Freeway near Calgrove Boulevard and briefly prompted road closures, snarling traffic. All southbound lanes and two northbound lanes of the interstate reopened Wednesday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The Calgrove fire, which is 45% contained, got close to some homes and damaged one garage, said Deputy Chief John Tripp of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Firefighters were able to douse the flames and stop the fire from spreading to the homes.
Five fire investigators were creating a grid along the 5 Freeway, Tripp said, in hopes of determining how the fire started.
About 1,000 people and 500 homes in Santa Clarita and Newhall were, said Cmdr. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The emergency animal evacuation center at Hart Park was caring for 30 horses. Evacuation orders were lifted by 10 p.m.
When the first calls came in, the blaze was about three acres and was burning uphill in heavy brush, said fire specialist Randall Wright with the L.A. County Fire Department. From there, the fire took off and consumed dry, brittle brush.
About 450 firefighters were focused on protecting structures in the Wildwood Canyon Road neighborhood, and four fixed-wing aircraft were dropping water on the blaze, officials said.
A firefighter assigned to help battle the blaze suffered minor injuries, fire officials said. The firefighter slipped and fell, burning his hand, Tripp said. He was taken to an area hospital.
About 200 people were evacuated from Wildwood Canyon Road, and about 100 people were evacuated from the Crescent Valley Mobile Estates on the Old Road.
Sheriff’s officials asked 15 people to evacuate from La Salle Canyon Drive and eight left their homes on Oakbridge Lane. Residents on Pine Street and Champagne Lane were also asked to the leave the area.
An evacuation center was set up at West Ranch High School, 26255 Valencia Blvd., in Santa Clarita.
The California Institute of the Arts in Valencia closed its campus for the day because of the fire.
Firefighters advised residents living east of Railroad and Newhall avenue, south of Calgrove Boulevard and north of the 5 and 14 freeway interchange to be prepared to leave.
Smoke from the fire had already filled the sky above the Crescent Valley mobile home park Wednesday afternoon when 16-year-old Jasmine Alvarenga put down her history textbook and stepped outside her parents’ home about 1:30 p.m.
The fire had spread fast and flames were coming down a hill near the home. She and her brother jumped in a pickup driven by a neighbor and fled the park.
“The flames were so close it was scary,” she said later at the evacuation center, with her parents by her side.
Fire officials said they were working under hot and windy conditions. Temperatures hit 90 degrees, and wind gusts reached 26 mph in the area.
The latest blaze proves this fire season will be challenging, but firefighters say they are prepared.
Firefighters are expecting increased fire activity in Los Angeles County this weekend due to monsoonal moisture, bringing possible thunderstorms and dry lightning, according to the National Weather Service.
For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
6:54 p.m.: This article was updated with fire growing to 200 acres and a witness account.
5:44 p.m.: This article was updated with more information on the fire and its containment figure.
4:18 p.m.: This article was updated with more information on evacuations.
4:00 p.m.: This article was updated with fire growing to 100 acres.
3:52 p.m.: This article was updated with more information on evacuations, minor injuries and to include that a third lane on the 5 Freeway has been reopened.
3:11 p.m.: This article was updated with mandatory evacuations ordered.
3:02 p.m.: This article was updated with fire growing to 85 acres.
2:26 p.m.: This article was updated with new details about the fire.
The first version of this article was published at 2:03 p.m.