A view of the San Fire from a Los Angeles County Fire Department Air Operations helicopter. Courtesy of the department
A view of the Sand Fire from a Los Angeles County Fire Department Air Operations helicopter. Courtesy of the department

A body was found Saturday night near the fast-moving Sand Fire in Santa Clarita that burned 20,000 acres, threatened 1,500 homes and covered the skies around a wide area of Los Angeles County with dark smoke tinged with an eerie red glow .

The body was found about 7:20 p.m. in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Lisa Jansen said, but officials could not confirm that the death was fire related.

“The victim was pronounced dead at the scene,” Jansen said.

Homicide detectives were investigating the death, she said.

The victim’s age and identity were being withheld

More than 1,500 homes were still threatened by the monstrous blaze, which now has consumed about 20,000 acres, a United States Forest Service spokesman said. A smoke advisory was issued earlier, warning residents about the possibility of health damage from smoke and ash.

The blaze also remained at 10 percent contained, the Forest Service’s Andrew Mitchell said.

Firefighting conditions improved marginally, Mitchell said.

“We’re seeing higher humidity,” he said, noting the humidity level had risen to 31 percent, up from 10 percent during the day.

Community members showed up today at the Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar to help evacuate exotic animals, according to Lt. Javier Gutierrez of  Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control.

The 160-acre sanctuary is at 14831 Little Tujunga Canyon Rd.

Broadcast reports indicated the animals were being taken to warehouses to wait out the fire.

An estimated 100 commercial buildings also were threatened and one building was destroyed, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Evacuations were ordered Saturday afternoon from Lost Canyon to the Bear Divide and Placerita Canyon to the Nature Center to Sand Canyon, according to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station.

Earlier, between 200 and 300 homes in the Little Tujunga area were under a mandatory evacuation order, according to the sheriff’s department. And fewer than 100 people were evacuated from the area of Capra Road off Soledad Canyon Road.

At a Saturday news conference, LACFD Deputy Chief John Tripp said about 1,000 homes were threatened by the fire, but warned residents of Sand Canyon and Lakeview Terrace to monitor media for possible evacuation orders as wind shifts bring new danger.

Fire units rushed to a home on Josel Drive as flames approached behind the house, officials said. The residents evacuated. It was not clear whether that home was the one structure destroyed. Airdrops were ordered for homes threatened in the Sand Canyon area.

An emergency shelter for residents was established at Golden Valley High School at 27051 Robert C. Lee Parkway in Santa Clarita. Another shelter was set up today at Hart High School, 24825 North Newhall Ave., in Santa Clarita. Shelter for large animals was made available at Agua Dulce Airport, Wayside Jail in Castaic and Pierce College in Woodland Hills.

County animal control officials said they rounded up 228 horses, 52 goats, 29 chickens, seven rabbits, five cats and two dogs from the Castaic area.

County fire chief Daryl Osby said a combination of a lot of dry vegetation, a wind alignment and “some fuels that haven’t burned in decades” saw a brush fire that broke out along the Antelope Valley  (14) Freeway in Santa Clarita increase from 5,500 to 11,000 acres overnight.

“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,’ Osby said during the noon news conference at Golden Valley High School. “Because this is the fifth year of an ongoing drought … this fire has increased to 11,000 acres just overnight.”

Residents reported smoke-filled air and falling ash in many parts of the greater Los Angeles area, and at least one building was damaged or destroyed by the fire.

One firefighter suffered a minor hand injury battling the blaze, Mitchell said.  No other injuries have been reported as a result of the blaze, which began at 2:11 p.m. Friday, near Sand Canyon Road, along the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway.

Authorities said 1,919 firefighters were battling the flames from the ground and air and firefighters from around the Southland were arriving to assist them.

The Los Angeles Fire Department sent a water-dropping helicopter to join four from the county fire department.

Eight fixed-wing firefighting aircraft also were utilized to attack the blaze, county fire Inspector Joey Marron said. Cal Fire and the forest service were also assisting in the fight.

The resources fighting this conflagration include 70 engines, 36 hand crews, a total of nine helicopters and four bulldozers, according to authorities.

The blaze was fueled by triple-digit temperatures along with gusty winds and was burning eastward into the Angeles National Forest.

There were several road closures as of this evening: There is no entry into Sand Canyon from Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads; no access to Sand Canyon, Soledad Canyon Road and Placerita Canyon, Agua Dulce Canyon Road  or Crown Valley Road from the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway; Sand Canyon Road was shut down east of Placerita Canyon to 12300 Little Tujunga Canyon Road.

A smoke advisory was issued through midnight Sunday for the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Pomona/Walnut Valley, and the central Los Angeles area, as smoke from the fire drifted southeast toward Los Angeles.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said those areas are susceptible to direct smoke impact and unhealthy air quality, and recommended that people stay indoors and avoid using swamp coolers and wood-burning appliances.

Metrolink announced that the service’s Antelope Valley trains will be experiencing delays of 35 to 50 minutes due to speed restrictions caused by the fire.

The city of Glendale reported that due to air quality and increased falling ash from the Sand Fire, Pacific Pool at 501 S. Pacific Ave. has been closed today.

Pasadena announced that smoke and ash conditions from the fire forced the closure of its swimming pools today as well.

The City of Santa Clarita cancelled a concert in a park, but the air cleared sufficiently in Altadena so that a concert was still planned for Farnsworth Park.

—City News Service

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