Firefighters continued their round-the-clock effort to fully surround the Saddleridge Fire in the northern San Fernando Valley Friday, amid blustery winds expected to continue throughout the weekend.
The fire — which has burned close to 8,400 acres — has destroyed 19 structures and damaged 88 more since it erupted about 9 p.m. Oct. 10 off the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway near Yarnell Street and Saddle Ridge Road in Sylmar.
Fire crews were forced to deal with gusting winds overnight, but authorities said despite the conditions, the containment lines held, and firefighters actually managed to increase the overall containment to 68% as of Friday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the Los Angeles County mountains in the far northern reaches of the county, including Acton, Mount Wilson and Sandberg, that will be in effect until 11 a.m. Saturday, but the advisory was canceled in the Santa Clarita Valley and Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area.
Forecasters said wind speeds should remain below 30 mph in the Santa Clarita Valley and Santa Monica Mountains, but gusty conditions are expected to return late Saturday into Sunday.
A “weak to moderate” Santa Ana wind event is expected to begin Sunday and continue through mid-week.
Los Angeles police warned that “smoldering embers can pick up and start again” and urged people to immediately call 911 if fire is spotted.
“Firefighters worked hard … in rugged terrain throughout the burn area to increase containment lines and address hot spots,” according to a statement from the unified command, made up of the Los Angeles city and county and Angeles National Forest fire departments. “Tactical patrols will remain in place … to monitor the area for smoldering debris.”
Given the forecasted winds, Southern California Edison again warned of possible “Public Safety Power Shutoffs,” meaning transmission lines in danger of being damaged by high winds could be de-energized to prevent possible wildfires, but resulting in customers losing power.
As of midday Friday, more than 22,500 SCE customers were in areas under consideration for power shutoffs, including more than 4,200 in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County areas being considered include Palmdale, Littlerock, Acton, Castaic and Chatsworth.
After breaking out last week, the Saddleridge Fire quickly spread due to wind-blown embers that jumped the Golden State (5) Freeway spreading flames into Granada Hills and Porter Ranch. At the height of the fire, an estimated 100,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders, all of which have since been lifted.
The cause of the Saddleridge Fire remains undetermined, but the point of origin was identified by LAFD arson investigators as a 50-foot-by-70-foot area beneath a Southern California Edison high-voltage transmission tower near Saddle Ridge Road, officials said.
On Monday, Southern California Gas Co. crews alerted firefighters about flames burning in a roughly 4-foot-by-4-foot patch of soil on the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility property in Porter Ranch. Fire officials said the small blaze did not pose any risks to the public or the storage facility.
That fire was extinguished on Tuesday afternoon, according to SoCalGas.
The utility said it believes the fire was from old crude oil activity, but won’t know for certain until the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the Air Quality Management District conducts its own tests, ABC7 reported.
SoCalGas officials stressed there was no damage to any equipment at the storage facility and no sign of any leaks. The small fire did not “pose a risk to public safety and there are no impacts to SoCalGas operations at the facility,” according to the Gas Co.
A Porter Ranch resident, identified by neighbors as 54-year-old Aiman Elsabbagh, died of a heart attack Oct. 11 while trying to protect his home from the fire. LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said the man was speaking to firefighters when he went into cardiac arrest, and he died at a hospital.
Los Angeles Park Ranger Capt. Alberto Torres, 67, also suffered a heart attack Oct. 11 at Ranger Headquarters at the Griffith Park Visitor Center, at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive and died the next morning at a hospital.
Torres — a ranger for more than 40 years — had been patrolling the parks impacted by the fire.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday ordered all city flags to lowered to half-staff in honor of Torres.
Eight firefighters suffered minor injuries, including one with an eye injury, fire officials said.
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