Updated at 10:15 a.m. June 25, 2015
Up to 1,000 residents were allowed to return to their homes in Santa Clarita early Thursday after a fast-moving brush fire scorched about 400 acres and briefly halted traffic in both directions on the Golden State (5) Freeway.
The fire — it’s not known what sparked it — was reported around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday along the northbound 5 near Calgrove Boulevard.
It was 45 percent contained as of 10 p.m. Wednesday after consuming dry vegetation on the freeway’s eastern side, and was listed at 60 percent contained after daybreak Thursday, officials said. The Santa Clarita Valley Signal reported the area is known as the Wildwood Canyon Open Space.
Firefighters were hampered at times by the steep terrain, covered by light and heavy vegetation, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Keith Mora said. But the elements were also in the firefighters’ favor, firefighter Specialist Tony Imbrenda told the Signal, with no offshore evening breezes to propel the flames.
The blaze was fought Wednesday by 450 firefighters, assisted by at least seven water-dropping helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft. Los Angeles city fire crews assisted their L.A County counterparts with structure protection.
The sole reported fire casualty as of this morning was a firefighter who fell while battling the flames and was hospitalized with burns, according to County Fire Deputy Chief John Tripp.
Evacuation orders for people in about 500 homes were lifted at 10 p.m. Wednesday, according to the department.
The only structural damage reported was to a garage, with flames spreading into its eaves, Tripp said.
As the flames advanced, about 100 people were evacuated from the Crescent Valley Mobile Estates park on The Old Road in Newhall Wednesday, another 200 from homes on Wildwood Canyon Road, and eight homes were cleared out on Oakbridge Lane, according to the sheriff’s department.
An evacuation center was opened at West Ranch High School in Santa Clarita. An animal evacuation center was set up at Hart Park. Sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Parker said about 30 horses were taken to the center.
The northbound Golden State Freeway was temporarily shut down near Gavin Canyon Wednesday, with traffic diverted to the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, but two lanes of traffic were later reopened. The California Highway Patrol briefly shut down all southbound lanes, but those were also reopened.
California Institute of the Arts closed its campus in Valencia for the rest of Wednesday afternoon due to the fire.
Tripp said five investigators were on the scene trying to determine what caused the fire. He noted that the fire season is just getting started.
“We’ve seen the fire activity for the last two weeks,” Tripp said. “This weekend, as the weather people have been telling us, we’re going to get a lot of lightning.
“That lightning could be dry lightning so we could have other ignition sources this weekend. So it’s going to be pretty much every day — us, you and the public out there, we need to keep our situation awareness up of what’s going on in our neighborhoods and what’s going on in our areas.”
—City News Service
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