A massive brush fire burning downhill in the Sun Valley, Sunland and Burbank area is called the biggest fire in the history of the city of Los Angeles.
The La Tuna Fire was just 10 percent contained as of 5 p.m. and had already consumed at least 8,000 acres, according to a variety of sources.
Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a 3:30 p.m. news conference at the department’s command post at the Hanson Dam that the previous 5,000-acre estimate number was expected to grow when there was time to fly over the perimeter.
Three structures have been lost in the Tujunga area in “isolated areas” with no brush clearance, Terrazas said.
Two were homes and one may have been a shed.
More than 700 homes have been evacuated in Burbank, Glendale and Los Angeles, and fire officials urged residents in the affected areas to be prepared to leave immediately if more evacuations orders are given.
There so far have been no injuries reported to residents or firefighters who are battling triple-digit heat as well as unpredictable winds for the second consecutive day.
“The biggest factor is weather and the wind,” Terrazas said. “If there is no wind, this fire is relatively easy to put out.” He described the weather and wind Saturday as “erratic,” much like it was Friday, switching directions multiple times.
“We’re constantly evaluating and it’s dependent upon the wind shifts,” he said. “Our priority is saving property. We’re evaluating that at all points of the fire. There’s a lot of fuel to burn.”
Terrazas also advised all homeowners in the area to clear any brush on their properties to give firefighters a better chance at savings their homes.
“If it (the brush) is clear, we can put our firefighters in a better position to save the house,’ he said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the news conference the fire is believed to be the biggest in terms of acreage in Los Angeles city’s history.
About 500 firefighters are working on the blaze now, additional resources have been requested from the state, and about 100 Los Angeles firefighters are expected back soon from Texas, where they have been helping survivors from Hurricane Harvey, officials said.
Four fixed-wing airtankers have been ordered to fight the blaze as well.
The city of Los Angeles went on a modified tactical alert this afternoon, a move that allows police to be assigned to the fire as needed, LAPD Capt. Dave Storaker said.
Officials announced that 300 homes have been evacuated in Burbank, 250 in Glendale and 180 in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, mandatory evacuations are in place in the McGroarty Park area (McGroarty to Valaho) and around Wormom Avenue and Sunland Boulevard near the border of Sunland and Sun Valley.
In Burbank, Burbank Estates, Brace Canyon, Stough Canyon Nature Center and Wildwood Canyon are under evacuation orders, and Groton Drive and Hamline Place east of Stephen Road are being evacuated, but residents living on Amigos Drive or Antigua Drive have been told they may return home.
In Glendale, mandatory evacuations were issued for Glenoaks and Mountain Oaks, with a voluntary order in place for Whiting Woods.
Voluntary evacuations have been urged for Aileen and Hillhaven, McGroarty from Oro Vista to Plainview, Alene Drive to Hillhaven Avenue, Reverier, Glen O Peace Parkway, Tranquil Drive, Inspiration Way, Tranquil Place, Hillhaven Place and the Haines Canyon Area, and for Shadow Island Drive and Wormom Avenue.
Evacuation centers are in place in Burbank at McCambridge Park, 1515 Glenoaks Blvd.; in Sunland at Sunland Recreation Center, 8651 Foothill Blvd.; and in La Crescenta at Crescenta Valley High School, 2900 Community Ave.
Small animals are being welcomed at all the evacuation centers, and officials caution that animals should not be left behind.
Burbank officials said emergency drop-offs were being accepted (with a valid Burbank ID) at the Burbank Animal Shelter at 1150 N. Victory Place.
Glendale officials urged evacuees with pets to bring them to the Crescenta Valley High School center, where officials with the Pasadena Humane Society are set up.
Large animals evacuated from the fire zone should be taken to Hansen Dam, officials said.
I want to say this loud and clear that folks who leave their homes, we have police assets who will stay in the neighborhood,” Garcetti said. “Do not be nervous of anybody who would take advantage of a tragedy like this and try to get into those neighborhoods, you will be caught.”
Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District warned Saturday that smoke from the fire has caused poor air quality that will affect everyone in the general fire area. According to the SCAQMD, unhealthy air quality will exist in portions of the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains and the Glendale area.
Power was turned off in the Mountain Oaks area of Glendale to enable firefighters to launch an aggressive defense of properties, according to Glendale police.
“It is difficult to tell where ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of dust particles in the air, so we ask all individuals to be aware of their immediate environment and to take actions to safeguard their health,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Smoke and ash can be harmful to health, especially in vulnerable individuals, like the elderly, people with asthma or individuals with other respiratory and heart conditions.”
Gunzenhauser urged all individuals in the fire areas, or areas where there is visible smoke or the odor of smoke, to avoid unnecessary outdoor exposure and to limit physical exertion, whether indoor or outdoor.
Residents who may lose power due to the fire, especially the elderly or individuals with sensitive health conditions, are advised not to shelter in place, but instead to take advantage of their local cooling center. A list of cooling centers can be found on the Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, or by calling the L.A. County Information line at 211 from any landline or cell phone within the county.
“We are also advising schools that are in session in smoke-impacted areas to suspend outside physical activities in these areas, including physical education and after-school sports, until conditions improve,” Gunzenhauser added. “Non-school related sports organizations for children and adults are advised to cancel outdoor practices and competitions in areas where there is visible smoke, soot, or ash, or where there is an odor of smoke.”
The blaze broke out for unknown reasons at 1:25 p.m. Friday near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, just south of the Foothill (210) Freeway.
The fire prompted the shutdown of the 210 Freeway in both directions between the Glendale (2) Freeway and Sunland Boulevard.
The CHP had no estimate on when that closure would be lifted.
— City News Service
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