More than 900 firefighters remained overnight clearing lines of vegetation around the Tick Fire in Canyon Country and Santa Clarita as assessment teams increased to 18 the number of structures destroyed in the blaze.
The fire that started at 1:24 p.m. Thursday was 55% contained as of late Saturday it’s size remained at 4,615 acres and 16 structures were found to have been damaged, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The 925 firefighters remaining on the scene were putting out hot spots and continuing to clear containment lines of vegetation around the burn area to prepare for a new round of Santa Ana winds forecast for Sunday evening into Monday, fire officials said.
Three lanes of the southbound Antelope Valley Freeway, including the carpool lane, reopened at 10:30 p.m. Friday. The right lane and shoulder remained closed from Agua Dulce Canyon to Soledad Canyon roads for about three days for guardrail repair from the fire, the California Highway Patrol said. The Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road off-ramps will remain closed until further notice, Caltrans said.
The northbound Antelope Valley Freeway, which had been closed between Golden Valley Road and Agua Dulce, was reopened about 4 p.m. Friday. The freeway was closed early Friday morning when flames jumped the roadway.
Residents were urged to avoid Bouquet Canyon Road because sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were using it as a primary staging area.
Evacuation orders affecting tens of thousands of residents were lifted for those living north of Soledad Canyon between Whites Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, and for residents in the Sand Canyon area south of Fire Station 132 from Sand Canyon Road to Placerita Canyon Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Vince Pena said at a Friday afternoon news briefing.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, evacuation orders were lifted for Baker Canyon Road from Sierra Highway, north of Vasquez Canyon Road, to where it ends near 15142 Sierra Highway. Earlier in the day evacuation orders were lifted for any area south of Fire Station 132 at 29310 Sand Canyon Road and south of the Sand Canyon off-ramp to Placerita; the area between Whites Canyon Road and Sierra Highway; the area south of Plum Canyon and north of Soledad Road and the areas southwest of Sierra Highway at Linda Vista.
Areas still under mandatory evacuation order were at Tick Canyon Road from Abelia Road to Summit Knoll Road.
About 11:30 a.m., a public works employee “stumbled across” human remains around Sand Canyon Road and Thompson Ranch Drive, said Deputy Morgan Arteaga of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. Sheriff’s homicide detectives responded to the scene, she said, but it was believed the skeletal remains had been there about a year, concealed in brush and exposed by the blaze.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County Friday in response to the fire, freeing up state resources to assist in the firefighting effort. County Board of Supervisors chair Janice Hahn also issued a local emergency declaration.
Eighteen structures have been confirmed destroyed and 16 more damaged, although fire officials said that the numbers will likely increase following damage assessments. More than 10,000 structures had been considered threatened in the fire area.
Evacuation centers were opened at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia; and West Ranch High School, 26255 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita.
The evacuation center at West Ranch High School was closed by the Red Cross around 2 p.m. Saturday, Santa Clarita officials. The other evacuation center at College of the Canyons remained open.
Evacuations of small animals were being handled at the Castaic Animal Care Center at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road in Castaic; and evacuations of large animals were being handled at Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 West Avenue H, Lancaster; Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills; and the Castaic Animal Care Center.
As of about 4 p.m. Friday, electricity was interrupted for nearly 8,400 Southern California Edison customers in parts of Los Angeles County under the utility’s “Public Safety Power Shutoff” program. Another 162,000 customers throughout the Southland are being considered for upcoming outages, authorities said.
Around 10,400 customers had been affected by the PSPS program in the Leona Valley, Agua Dulce, White Heather, Boiling Point, Mint Canyon, Chatsworth, Oaks, Lincoln Crest, Acton and Val Verde communities.
The program targets areas where weather conditions “may create the potential for elevated fire risk,” SCE reported. More information is available at www.sce.com/safety/wildfire/psps.
Caltrans issued a Saturday statement reminding motorists that they should treat traffic signals as stop signs when the power is off and treat every entrance to an intersection as if it had a stop sign.
The fire prompted the cancellation of classes at numerous schools and two colleges.
The blaze began near the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, earning it the moniker Tick Fire, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Initially reported at 200 acres, it rapidly grew to more than 850 acres in less than an hour, fire officials said.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory through Sunday for northwest Los Angeles County, and eastern and western San Fernando Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains. As of 7:30 p.m. it had not been extended, according to the AQMD web site.
Residents, particularly those with sensitivity to air quality, were asked to avoid outdoor activity and remain indoors as much as possible. It was also recommended that pets be brought inside, particularly at night.
No injuries were reported in the fire.
Two other, smaller brush fires broke out in the same general area Thursday while crews were battling the Tick Fire. One erupted about 10 miles to the west along the Golden State (5) Freeway in the Castaic Lake area, scorching about 18 acres while destroying two homes and damaging six, Pena said.
Another fire broke out in the Del Valle area west of the Golden State Freeway and burned about an acre of brush, officials said.
The series of fires erupted amid red flag conditions prompted by Santa Ana winds and single-digit humidity.
Newsom’s office announced Thursday night that the state was awarded a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover costs of efforts to fight the Tick Fire. The grant allows agencies responding to the fire to apply for 75% reimbursement of eligible firefighting costs.
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