Thousands In Wildfire Path Forced to Evacuate

December 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Thousands of people remained under mandatory evacuation orders Wednesday as firefighters tried to get control of multiple stubborn, wind-driven fires in Sylmar, Santa Clarita and Bel Air.

The largest of the fires, which raged through the hills above Sylmar and threatened thousands of homes was holding at just more than 11,000 acres burned late Wednesday afternoon, but crews were bracing for violent gusts expected to return overnight.

The Creek Fire broke out early Tuesday morning in the city of Sylmar. More than 1,100 firefighters and other personnel were deployed against the fire, which fire officials said Wednesday afternoon was 5 percent contained.

The blaze broke out at 3:42 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads in the Kagel Canyon area. More than 1,100 firefighters and other personnel were deployed against the fire, which fire officials said Wednesday afternoon was 5 percent contained.

El Fuego de Creek empezó el martes por la mañana en la ciudad de Sylmar. Más de 1,100 bomberos y otro personal fueron desplegados contra el fuego, que, según las autoridades de bomberos, el miércoles por la tarde estaba 5 por ciento contenido.

Thousands of people in the path of the Creek Fire that started Tuesday in Sylmar have been forced to flee their homes. More than 14,000 had burned as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Fire Dept, which said the wildfire was just 5 percent contained. (LAFD /Harry Garvin)

Three firefighters were injured Tuesday, and were hospitalized in stable condition.

At least 30 homes were destroyed, about 20 of them in the Little Tujunga, Kagel Canyon and Lopez Canyon areas. The other 10 homes were within Los Angeles city limits, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire also forced a mass evacuation of large animals, primarily horses but also others such as alpacas.

Many of the animals were being housed at Pierce College and the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, which were at capacity Wednesday afternoon and not accepting additional animals.

Sylmar resident Virginia Padilla, whose family owns a ranch in Sylmar, told reporters the fire killed at least 30 of the ranch’s horses. Padilla said she and her family were able to get out of her home just in time but were not able to take their horses with them as they had to evacuate immediately when they were awakened Tuesday morning.

Evacuation orders first issued Tuesday were affecting about 110,000 households, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said evacuated residents would not be allowed to return home for another night.

“We realize what an inconvenience this is and how traumatic this is to so many people, but we’ve watched fires in Northern California, we’ve seen through experience it’s much better to err on the side of safety,” Garcetti said at an afternoon news briefing.

An estimated 2,500 structures were threatened by the Creek Fire at one point, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was fighting the blaze in a unified command with the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

Los Angeles Fire Department attacks Creek Fire from land and air. (LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin )

Los Angeles Fire Department attacks Creek Fire from land and air. (LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin )

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas warned that the battle was likely to continue until at least Friday.

While there was a lull in the winds Wednesday, allowing crews to work on containment lines around the various fires, a “significant” wind event was expected Wednesday night and into Thursday, with hurricane-force winds possible, Terrazas said.

The LAFD’s “brush burning index” that rates the fire danger was at 296 — “the highest number I’ve ever seen in my career,” according to Terrazas.

He said the usual threshold for extreme fire conditions is 165.

“Tonight may be the worst night of all,” Terrazas said.

Fire fighting resources were further strained when a fast-moving brush fire broke out just before dawn Wednesday, racing across 475 acres in the Sepulveda Pass and Bel Air, destroying four homes and damaging 11 others, forcing mandatory evacuations and prompting a morning rush-hour closure
of the San Diego (405) Freeway.

The Skirball Fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. on the east side of the freeway near Mulholland Drive, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. By 3 p.m. the fire was estimated to have burned 475 acres and was 5 percent contained, though no injuries were reported, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Charles Butler.

The fire was kept to the east side of the freeway and with winds easing, the forward movement of the fire was halted, but firefighters were in a desperate race to contain the blaze before expected evening gusts, Butler said.

“When the winds come up they’re going to come out of the northeast and they will want to push that fire across the 405 Freeway,” Butler said.

About 700 homes and an apartment building were evacuated. One elementary school was also evacuated, Butler said.

Aircraft crews, engine companies and hand crews were at work battling the fire, with more than 300 firefighters deployed, he said.

Six fixed-wing aircraft and a number of helicopters were deployed to the scene, Garcetti said at a morning news briefing.

Other agencies assisting including the U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles County Fire Department and Cal Fire.

The Getty Center and the nearby Skirball Center, both on the west side of the freeway, and did not appear to be threatened.

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on the west side of Los Angeles — a total of 265 district schools and affiliated charter schools — will be closed on Thursday and Friday, district officials said. A full list of closed schools was available at www.lausd.net.

All Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District campuses will also remain closed Thursday. Both were closed for the day and were to remain closed on Thursday. Santa Monica College and all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district were closed.

Citywide, about 600 Los Angeles police officers were assigned to coordinate security, evacualtion orders and various “firefighting events,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

Residents were urged to heed evacuation orders and to prepare well in advance of commands to leave home.

“Pack a go bag,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

He suggested residents take photo IDs, medications, food and water — enough for a couple of days — and important documents like birth certificates, passports and licenses.

He said 70 mph winds were forecast for Wednesday night.

“Please take this serious,” he said. “Pack a bag, be ready to go, have your cell phone charged and please, heed the warning when we ask you to leave an area.”

Incendios Impulsados por el Viento Arrasan la Región

December 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Miles de personas permanecieron bajo órdenes obligatorias de evacuación el miércoles mientras los bomberos trataban de controlar múltiples incendios obstinados e impulsados por el viento en Sylmar, Santa Clarita y Bel Air.

El mayor de los incendios, que azotó los cerros sobre Sylmar y amenazó a miles de hogares, se mantuvo en más de 11,000 acres quemados la tarde del miércoles, pero las cuadrillas se preparaban para violentas ráfagas que se espera que vuelvan toda la noche.

El incendio comenzó a las 3:42 de la mañana el martes en el área de Gold Creek y Little Tujunga en el área de Kagel Canyon. Más de 1,100 bomberos y otro personal fueron desplegados contra el fuego, que, según las autoridades de bomberos, el miércoles por la tarde contenía un 5 por ciento.

Tres bomberos resultaron heridos el martes y fueron hospitalizados en condición estable.

Al menos 30 casas fueron destruidas, unas 20 en las áreas de Little Tujunga, Kagel Canyon y Lopez Canyon. Las otras 10 casas estaban dentro de los límites de la ciudad de Los Ángeles, según Margaret Stewart del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles (LAFD).

El fuego también forzó una evacuación masiva de animales grandes, principalmente caballos, pero también otros como alpacas.

Muchos de los animales estaban siendo alojados en el colegio de Pierce y en el Centro Ecuestre de Los Ángeles, que estaba en capacidad completa el miércoles por la tarde y no aceptaron animales adicionales.

La residente de Sylmar, Virginia Padilla, cuya familia es dueña de un rancho en Sylmar, le dijo a la prensa que el fuego mató al menos 30 de los caballos del rancho. Padilla dijo que ella y su familia pudieron salir de su casa justo a tiempo, pero no pudieron llevarse a sus caballos porque tuvieron que evacuar inmediatamente cuando los despertaron el martes por la mañana.

Las órdenes de evacuación emitidas por primera vez el martes estaban afectando a unas 110,000 familias, según el alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, quien dijo que a los residentes evacuados no se les permitiría regresar a casa por una noche más.

“Nos damos cuenta de que inconveniente es esto y que traumático es para mucha gente, pero hemos visto incendios en el norte de California, hemos visto a través de la experiencia que es mucho mejor errar por el lado de la seguridad”, dijo Garcetti en una sesión de noticias el miércoles por la tarde.

Un estimado de 2,500 estructuras fueron amenazadas por el Fuego Creek en un punto, de acuerdo con el Servicio Forestal de los Estados Unidos, que estaba luchando contra el incendio en un comando unificado con los departamentos de bomberos de la ciudad y el condado de Los Ángeles.

El Fuego de Creek empezó el martes por la mañana en la ciudad de Sylmar. Más de 1,100 bomberos y otro personal fueron desplegados contra el fuego, que, según las autoridades de bomberos, el miércoles por la tarde estaba 5 por ciento contenido.

El Fuego de Creek empezó el martes por la mañana en la ciudad de Sylmar. Más de 1,100 bomberos y otro personal fueron desplegados contra el fuego, que, según las autoridades de bomberos, el miércoles por la tarde estaba 5 por ciento contenido.

El jefe del departamento de bomberos de Los Ángeles, Ralph Terrazas, advirtió que la batalla probablemente continuará hasta al menos el viernes.

Mientras hubo una calma en los vientos el miércoles, permitiendo que las tripulaciones trabajen en líneas de contención alrededor de los diversos incendios, se esperaba un evento de viento “significativo” la noche del miércoles y el jueves, con vientos con fuerza de huracán, dijo Terrazas.

El “índice de quema de cepillo” del LAFD que califico el peligro de incendio fue de 296 – “el número más alto que he visto en mi carrera”, según Terrazas.

Dijo que el limite habitual para las condiciones de fuego extremo es 165.

“Esta noche puede ser la peor noche de todas”, dijo Terrazas.

Los recursos para combatir incendios se tensaron aún más cuando el miércoles se produjo un rápido incendio, atravesando 475 acres en Sepúlveda Pass y Bel Air, destruyendo cuatro casas y dañando a otras 11, obligando a evacuaciones obligatorias y provocando un cierre de la autopista San Diego (405) durante la hora punta matutina.

El Fuego de Skirball fue reportado a las 4:52 de la mañana en el lado este de la autopista cerca de Mulholland Drive, dijo Margaret Stewart del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles. A las 3 de la tarde se calculó que el incendio había quemado 475 acres y solo el 5 por ciento estaba contenida, aunque no se reportaron heridos, según el jefe adjunto del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles, Charles Butler.

El fuego se mantuvo en el lado este de la autopista y con los vientos amainando, el movimiento de avance del fuego se detuvo, pero los bomberos estaban en una carrera desesperada por contener el fuego antes de las ráfagas nocturnas esperadas, dijo Butler.

“Cuando salgan los vientos saldrán del noreste y querrán empujar ese fuego a través de la autopista 405”, dijo Butler.

Cerca de 700 casas y un edificio de apartamentos fueron evacuados. Una escuela primaria también fue evacuada, dijo Butler.

Los equipos de aviones, las compañías de motores y los equipos de mano luchaban contra el fuego, con más de 300 bomberos desplegados, dijo.

Seis aviones de ala fija y varios helicópteros fueron desplegados en la escena, dijo Garcetti en una conferencia de prensa.

Otras agencias que ayudan incluyen el Servicio Forestal de EE. UU., El Departamento de Bomberos del Condado de Los Ángeles y Cal Fire.

El Getty Center y el cercano Skirball Center, ambos en el lado oeste de la autopista, no parecían estar amenazados.

Todas las escuelas del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles en el Valle de San Fernando y algunas en el lado oeste de Los Ángeles – un total de 265 escuelas del distrito y escuelas subvencionadas afiliadas –  estarán cerradas el jueves y el viernes, dijeron funcionarios del distrito. Una lista completa de escuelas cerradas estaba disponible en www.lausd.net.

Todos los centros educacionales del Distrito Unificado de Santa Monica y Malibu también permanecerán cerrados el jueves. Ambos estaban cerrados por el día y debían permanecer cerrados el jueves. El colegio de Santa Monica y todas las escuelas en el distrito escolar de Santa Monica y Malibu estaban cerradas.

En toda la ciudad, se asignaron alrededor de 600 agentes de policía de Los Ángeles para coordinar ordenes de seguridad, evacuación y varios “eventos de extinción de incendios”, dijo el jefe del LAPD, Charlie Beck.

Se instó a los residentes a prestar atención a las órdenes de evacuación y a preparase antes de que les pidan que salgan de sus casas.

“Empaquen una mochila”, dijo el sheriff del condado de Los Ángeles, Jim McDonnell.

Sugirió a los residentes tomar identificaciones con foto, medicamentos, comida y agua – lo suficiente por un par de días – y documentos importantes como certificados de nacimiento, pasaportes y licencias.

Dijo que preveían vientos de 70 km por hora el miércoles por la noche.

“Por favor tómenlo en serio”, dijo. “Empaque una bolsa, preparasen para irse, cargue su teléfono celular, y, por favor, preste atención a la advertencia cuando le pidamos que se vaya de la zona.

Gov. Brown Declares State of Emergency In SoCal Wildfires

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County due to the wildfires burning in the area.

The declaration comes amid Santa Ana wind conditions believed to be the worst in a decade, and as a brush fire rages out of the Kagel Canyon area above Sylmar Tuesday. The fire raced across 11,000 acres, destroying about 30 homes and forcing more than 150,000 people from their homes.

High winds hindered efforts to get the blaze under control.

The blaze, dubbed the Creek Fire, was reported at 3:42 a.m. in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The fire consumed 4,000 acres by 8:30 a.m. and blanketed 11,000 acres with zero containment by early afternoon.

Fire officials said late Tuesday they would not have an updated acreage figure until Wednesday morning. But as of Tuesday night, at least 30 homes had been destroyed, about 20 of them in the Little Tujunga, Kagel Canyon and Lopez Canyon areas.

Throughout the day there  was a frantic rush to get hundreds of horses out of the way of the fire.

About 800 firefighters were attacking the fire on the ground, but strong, unpredictable winds was making it hard to gain any ground against the blaze.

The mayor urged residents to heed orders to evacuate — saying, “Do not wait. Leave your home” — and added that people should be prepared for at least one night away from home.

“Do not expect to back tonight,” Garcetti said.

An estimated 800 firefighters were on the lines battling the blaze, which was being pushed by sustained winds of 25 mph, along with gusts up to 45mph during the day.

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas warned that the firefight is likely to continue until at least Friday.

“This has only just begun,” he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department, meanwhile, was on a citywide tactical alert, which allows commanders maximum flexibility in deploying resources. One firefighter was hospitalized after a bulldozer rolled over in the Sunland- Tujunga area, but the injury was not considered to be life-threatening. A second firefighter was also injured, with Terrazas telling ABC7 the firefighter was burned when a propane tank exploded.

There were no other immediate reports of injuries.

“We have no reports of any civilian fatalities or injuries, which speaks to the fact people are evacuating,” county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The Foothill (210) Freeway was closed in both directions between the Golden State (5) Freeway on the west and the Glendale (2) Freeway and wasn’t expected to be reopened until at least Wednesday morning. The 210 interchange with the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway was also closed.

As the fire expanded and jumped south of the 210 Freeway, so did the mandatory evacuation area. Evacuations were initially ordered in the area north of the 210 Freeway from Glenoaks Boulevard on the west to the border with La Crescenta on the east.

But by early afternoon, the eastern border of the evacuation area had been enlarged to the Haynes Canyon area. Also, an area south of the 210 Freeway
was ordered evacuated in the Shadow Hills area, in a roughly triangular area between Sunland Boulevard to the south, Wentworth Street to the north and Tuxford Street to the west, officials said.

Evacuation centers were opened at:
— Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave.;
— Branford Recreation Center, 13306 Branford St., Arleta;
— Sun Valley Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave., Sylmar;
— Granada Hills Recreation Center, 16730 Chatsworth St.;
— Stonehurst Recreation Center, 9901 Dronfield Ave., Sun Valley;
— Valley Plaza Recreation Center, 12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood;
— North Hollywood Recreation Center, 11430 Chandler Blvd.;
— Chatsworth South Recreation Center, 22360 Devonshire St.;
— Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, 14201 Huston St., Sherman
Oaks; and
— Mason Recreation Center, 10500 Mason Ave., Chatsworth.

An evacuation center had been opened at the Sunland Senior Center at 8640 Fenwick St., but that center was closed as the fire closed in.

The fire also forced a mass evacuation of large animals, primarily horses but also others such as alpacas. Large-animal evacuation centers at Pierce College, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and Hansen Dam Recreation Area quickly reached capacity. The Pomona Fairplex also opened its stables for evacuated animals.

For small animals, shelters were in place at West Valley Animal Shelter, 20655 Plummer St., and the East Valley Animal Shelter, 14409 Vanowen St.

The fire affected a number of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, with students diverted to alternate campuses to keep them out of the fire’s path.

LAUSD officials said the following district campuses will be closed Wednesday:
— Mount Gleason Middle School;
— Verdugo Hills High School;
— Apperson Street Elementary School;
— Mountain View Elementary School;
— Pinewood Elementary;
— Pinewood Early Education Center;
— Stonehurst Elementary;
— Sunland Elementary;
— Brainard Elementary;
— Mount Lukens Continuation High School; and
— Plainview Academic Charter Academy.

Los Angeles Mission College’s Main Campus at 13356 Eldridge Ave. and the East Campus at 12890 Harding St., both in Sylmar, were closed for the day. However, the college’s Sunland-Tujunga Campus at 7224 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga remained open. There was no immediate word if classes would resume Wednesday.

Osby said high winds hindered the deployment of firefighting fixed-wing aircraft, although more than a half-dozen water-dropping helicopters

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