Much of the Southland remained under a red flag warning Friday amid low humidity coupled with strong and gusty winds, which caused a fire of around 4,500 acres in the western San Fernando Valley, burning down homes and prompting mandatory evacuation orders affecting tens of thousands of people.
The communities most affected were Sylmar, Granada Hills and Porter Ranch, a community of around 30,000 inhabitants which was ordered evacuated in its entirety early Friday morning.
Given an abundance of very dry vegetation, fire commanders expected the Saddleridge Fire, which broke out in Sylmar around 9 p.m. Thursday and quickly burgeoned, to burn westward into Ventura County.
“A moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event will continue to bring dangerous fire weather conditions to most of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties through late Friday afternoon,” according to a National Whether Service statement.
It said wind gusts of between 45 and 55 miles per hour are expected across coastal and valley areas, with gusts of between 55 and 75 mph in the foothills and mountains. Single-digit humidity levels are expected through Friday.
The red flag warning, which went into force at 3 a.m. Thursday, is expected to expire at 6 p.m. Friday but could be extended into Saturday, according to the NWS.
Northeast winds of 25 to 45 mph with gusts of 65 to 75 mph are expected Friday across the western portions of the Angeles National Forest and the western Santa Monica Mountains amid humidity levels of 3-10%, the NWS said.
Even before Friday morning’s wild fire, the NWS had warned that “If fire ignition occurs, conditions will be favorable for very rapid fire spread, long range spotting, and extreme fire behavior, which would threaten life and property.”
Northeast winds of 20 to 35 mph with 55-mph gusts are forecast in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and eastern Ventura County.
Northeast winds of 20-30 mph with 50-mph gusts are forecast in the Foothills of the San Gabriel Valley and the Los Angeles coastal zone, which stretches from Malibu to the Hollywood Hills and includes metropolitan L.A.
Sunny skies were forecast in L-A County Friday, along with highs of 70 on Mount Wilson; 77 in Avalon; 74 in Palmdale; 75 in Lancaster; 77 in Avalon; 86 at LAX; 87 in San Gabriel and Burbank; 88 in Downtown L.A. and Woodland Hills: and 90 in Long Beach and Pasadena. Temperatures will steadily decline over the coming days.
Sunny skies were also forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 64 on Santiago Peak; 77 on Ortega Highway at 2,600 feet; 80 in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente; 87 in Yorba Linda; 88 in Mission Viejo; and 89 in Fullerton, Anaheim and Irvine. Temperatures will decline steadily in the coming days.