Crews are closing in Wednesday on the containment of the 9- day-old Creek Fire, which has destroyed dozens of homes and scorched more than 15,600 acres in the hills above Sylmar.
The blaze remains 98 percent contained, with full containment expected by midnight on Dec. 23 as crews will continue to work against Santa Ana winds, according to Cal Fire.
National Weather Service forecasters expect fire weather in the area to extend to late Friday morning.
The wind-driven blaze broke out at 3:42 a.m. on Dec. 5. Over the weekend, more than 1,700 firefighters continued to patrol the area in Sylmar and improve lines of cleared vegetation.
A little more than 300 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the blaze Tuesday when crews focused on patrolling and extinguishing hotspots, mop-up, and improving containment lines, authorities said.
The fire has destroyed 60 homes and 63 outbuildings, damaged another 55 homes and 26 outbuildings, and scorched 15,619 acres, Cal Fire reported. Currently, 2,500 structures continue to be threatened.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
All evacuation orders were lifted at 6 p.m. Friday. Evacuation orders first issued Tuesday affected about 150,000 households citywide, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said “thousands upon thousands of homes” had been protected.
All roads shut down because of the fire have reopened, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, but motorists were advised to use caution driving in and around the area.
Virginia Padilla, whose family owns a ranch in Sylmar, told reporters the fire killed at least 30 of the ranch’s horses. She said she and her family were able to get out of her home just in time Tuesday morning but were not able to take their horses with them.
All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on Los Angeles’ Westside — a total of 265 district schools and charter schools — were closed Friday. The schools reopened Monday.
Southern California Edison reported Tuesday that investigators are looking into whether the utility’s facilities played a role in starting any of the region’s fires, which broke out amid strong Santa Ana winds capable of downing trees, branches and power lines, and of rapidly spreading fires.
“The causes of the wildfires are being investigated by Cal Fire, other fire agencies and the California Public Utilities Commission,” according to an SCE statement. “The investigations now include locations beyond those identified last week as the apparent origin of these fires. SCE believes the investigations now include the possible role of its facilities. SCE continues to cooperate with the investigations. The wildfire investigations may take a considerable amount of time to complete. SCE will provide updated information as circumstances warrant.”
—City News Service
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