Air tankers assisting in what is at least a 750-acre brushfire in Pacific Palisades have been suspended this evening due to poor visibility, while sheriff’s investigators search for an arson suspect.
There is zero containment on the blaze, the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Margaret Stewart said Saturday evening. She said there are three burn areas, “the main fire, the original fire … and a small spot fire.”
The fire ignited in a remote area off Michael Lane and Palisades Court around 10 p.m. Friday, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange.
Evacuations were ordered in two areas, according to L.A. County fire officials. Zone 4 is everyone east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard between the Community House and View Ridge Road, and Zone 6 is everyone north of Entrada, south of Oakwood Drive and east of the Henry Ridge Motorway. Large animals, meanwhile, can be taken to Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
The terrain is very steep and extremely difficult to navigate, Stewart said. “Dozers are working to improve access for firefighters on the ground but much of the area remains inaccessible. This is primarily an air-based operation with both fixed wing and rotary working together.”
Los Angeles County fire officials reported that after the marine layer blew in, the visibility became too poor for fixed-wing aircraft, which had been productive. Helicopters continued to make water drops and the tankers previously succeeded at dropping retardant across the Topanga Fire Road to south along the left flank.
“The state parks are closing trails in the area because it is unsafe for hikers but cannot clear everyone due to the vast area involved, Stewart said.
The flames were driven by wind gusts from the south-southwest at 15-25 mph, according to the National Weather Service. “Humidities 50% or higher, but fuels are VERY dry,” the agency tweeted.
Residents in the area could see a large plume of smoke, said the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Margaret Stewart.
The fire slopped over, Stewart said, “meaning the edge of the fire crossed a control line as opposed to a `spot fire’ which is ahead of the fire body.”
The threatened area of land to the west is within the State Responsibility Area, so the Los Angeles County Fire Department will now be involved in a Unified Command with the Los Angeles Fire Department and CAL-FIRE, she said. LAFD and LACo Fire Department water-dropping helicopters were assisted by a Ventura County chopper.
Topanga Canyon Boulevard was closed between Mulholland Drive and Pacific Coast Highway due to firefighting activity, according to Malibu Emergency Services, which noted there was no threat to Malibu at this time though the large plume of smoke was visible.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau was searching for a person suspected of setting the brush fire, said Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.