Fire officials expect full containment Saturday of the Creek Fire, which has been burning for almost three weeks in the hills above Sylmar, and has destroyed dozens of homes and scorched more than 15,600 acres.
The blaze remained 98 percent contained Thursday. Full containment is expected by midnight, according to Cal Fire.
About 50 firefighters remained in battle with the fire since Wednesday, with crews focusing on suppression repair work, Cal Fire officials said. At its peak, the blaze had more than 1,700 firefighters deployed against it.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, about 80 percent of the burned area has affected Angeles National Forest lands, and Forest Supervisor Jeffrey Vail ordered last week the closure of about 21,000 acres of the forest within and surrounding the Creek Fire perimeter.
“All Forest Service roads and trails within the closure area, including the Oak Springs Trailhead, are closed to the public,” Vail said. “The public is urged to use caution when driving in and around the area as fire equipment and crews remain in the vicinity.
“Additionally, intermittent closures may occur due to ongoing power restoration efforts.”
The wind-driven fire started at 3:42 a.m. on Dec. 5. The fire has destroyed 60 homes and 63 outbuildings, damaged another 55 homes and 26 outbuildings, and scorched 15,619 acres, Cal Fire reported. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Although the cause remains under investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported that witnesses saw a snapped line on a high-voltage transmission tower in Little Tujunga Canyon that sent off sparks as it whipped high overhead at the start of the fire.
Southern California Edison reported 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.
Evacuation orders first issued Dec. 5 affected about 150,000 households citywide, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said “thousands upon thousands of homes” had been protected. All evacuation orders were lifted at 6 p.m. about four days later, and all roads shut down because of the fire have reopened, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
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 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 Dec. 8 and reopened Dec. 11.
—City News Service
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