Some evacuations were lifted Friday and the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway was reopened as crews continued to battle the 4,300-acre Tick Fire burning in Canyon Country and Santa Clarita ahead of an anticipated shift in wind direction.
As of late Friday afternoon, about 575 firefighters were battling the blaze which erupted about 2 p.m. Thursday and was 5% contained.
Evacuation orders, which were 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 an afternoon news briefing.
Other areas under evacuation orders — specifically the area east of Sand Canyon Road south of Sierra Highway at Linda Vista Street — will remain off limits until at least Saturday morning, when officials will reassess the situation, Pena said.
Meanwhile, the northbound Antelope Valley Freeway, which had been closed between Golden Valley Road and Agua Dulce, was reopened about 4 p.m. The Sand Canyon Road off-ramp remained closed along with southbound lanes of the freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP suggested motorists traveling from the Lancaster area take the Antelope Valley Freeway north to westbound state Route 138 to the Golden State (5) Freeway.
Residents were urged to avoid Bouquet Canyon Road, because sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were using it as a primary staging area.
Pena said crews are intent on securing the north end of the fire before light to moderate northeast winds expected Friday night start blowing from the south-southwest around noon Saturday.
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.
Six structures have been confirmed destroyed, although fire officials said that number will likely increase following damage assessments. More than 15,000 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.
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 service 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.
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.
The fire prompted the cancellation of classes at numerous schools and two colleges.
Red flag parking restrictions ordered in Los Angeles by its fire department to keep designated streets clear in case fire trucks have to be deployed were set to expire at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The fire in Canyon Country was reported about 1:40 p.m. Thursday 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, the blaze rapidly grew to more than 850 acres in less than an hour, fire officials said.
College of the Canyons canceled all classes at its Valencia and Canyon Country campuses Thursday and announced the campuses would remain closed Friday. Classes were also canceled Friday for all schools in the Hart, Newhall, Saugus, Castaic Union and Sulphur Springs Union school districts.
The Los Angeles Unified School District closed all campuses in the San Fernando Valley due to air quality and safety concerns from the Tick Fire and other blazes burning in the area.
Community Elementary, Roscomare Road Elementary, Topanga Elementary Charter, Valley View Elementary, Wonderland Avenue Elementary and Elementary Day School were also closed. All athletic activities at the affected schools were canceled or postponed, according to the LAUSD.
A total of 15 schools run by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys canceled classes scheduled for Friday.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory through at least Saturday for northwest Los Angeles County, and eastern and western San Fernando Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains.
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. Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said a Los Angeles County fire Sikorsky water-dropping helicopter was struck by a bird and sustained a damaged windshield on Thursday. The chopper was able to land safely and its windshield was being repaired.
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. The red flag warning is scheduled to remain in place until Friday night.
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.