Fire near Santa Clarita continues to burn out of control, explodes to more than 20000 acres – Los Angeles Times

A wildfire in the Santa Clarita Valley area has grown to more than 20,000 acres, prompting new evacuations Saturday for hundreds of homes in canyon areas, authorities said.

The evacuation order was issued about 3:15 p.m. for residents in Sand and Placerita canyons, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. 

At least 1,500 homes are threatened, fire officials said.

The Sand fire, which was reported about 2 p.m. Friday, is still only 10% contained, fire officials said.

The fire had largely burned in areas without many homes until late Saturday afternoon, when winds began to shift from the northwest to the southwest, driving them closer to the Sand Canyon neighborhood in Santa Clarita, county fire officials said. 

“Those residents have to be watching the weather, watching the media, and have to be ready to evacuate,” John Tripp, a Los Angeles County Fire Department deputy chief, warned at a noon news conference.

The fire’s rapid growth has been fueled by “excessive heat, low humidity, extreme dry fuels that have not burned for several decades, and very rugged terrain,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who represents the area and attended the news conference.

Fanned by gusts of up to 40 mph, the fire burned more than 2,000 acres overnight.

Weather officials warned that Saturday would mark the peak of a regional heat wave. Forecasters say temperatures in the eastern Santa Clarita Valley area — where the fire is raging — are were expected to reach up to 106 degrees. Red-flag warnings remain in effect for much of the region until midnight.

The blaze had doubled in size to 5,500 acres overnight.

“There’s a great possibility that the fire will increase in size,” he said.

The strong winds and high temperatures had driven the flames into new pockets of the mountainous area Saturday, said LA County Sheriff’s spokesman Richard Lincon. Steep hillsides and deep ravines have prevented fire crews from heading into some areas to dig lines that could keep the fire from spreading further.

“Probably five years ago, based on our fire behavior, if we had a similar fire, we would have probably caught this fire at the ridge,” L.A. County fire chief Daryl Osby  said. “Because this is the fifth year of an ongoing drought … this fire has increased to 11,000 acres just overnight.”

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