California’s biggest fire explodes in L.A. County; wildfires continue to burn across state


As at least a half dozen fires continue to burn across the state, a new blaze exploded Thursday night in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, damaging homes and forcing evacuations.

Driven by strong Santa Ana winds that have swept through the state this week, the Saddleridge Fire was sparked after 9 p.m. Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Evacuations are in effect for 23,000 homes in the northern tier of the San Fernando Valley, affecting more than 100,000 people, the Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Police said.

One man died of cardiac arrest during the night and a firefighter suffered a minor eye injury, the fire department said, and at least 25 homes have been damaged.

The fire was still raging as of 8 a.m. and had grown to become the state’s second largest fire at more than 4,700 acres with no containment, the fire department said. The fire is growing at an estimated 800 acres per hour, Chief Ralph Terrazas of the L.A. Fire Department said.

The U.S. Forest Service joined the unified command Friday morning as the fire is now burning in the Angeles National Forest, according to a news release.

The forest service, L.A. City Fire Department and L.A. County Fire Department continue to battle the blaze, according to the release.

Interstate 210 is closed in both directions between Interstates 5 and State Route 118, according to the California Highway Patrol. Interstate 5 is closed between Calgrove Boulevard in Santa Clarita and Roxford Street in Sylmar.

In Northern California, a prescribed burn in the Eldorado National Forest was declared a wildland fire Thursday afternoon after unfavorable weather conditions drove the fire faster than anticipated, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release. Unfavorable weather conditions fueled the fire before crews could complete operations

“In anticipation of the upcoming strong winds, fire managers began building fireline and conducting firing operations to secure the fire perimeter,” the U.S. Forest Service said. “Unfavorable conditions over the past few days prevented crews from being able to complete the firing operations contributed tto the incident being declared a wildland fire.”

The prescribed burn began last week and is part of a “multi-year forest restoration project” to reintroduce fire to the forest in an effort to make more healthy and resilient, the U.S. Forest Service said.

By declaring it a wildfire, Cal Fire can now step in and provide resources for firefighting, according to the news release.

In another part of the state, Cal Fire continues to fight the state’s largest wildfire in Mariposa County, the Briceburg Fire, which has grown to 4,905 acres and is 30 percent contained.

Crews worked overnight to reinforce containment lines and began mop up operations within those lines this morning, Cal Fire said. Mandatory evacuations are still in effect and Yosemite National Park remains open.

Highway 140 is closed from Colorado Road to Savages Trading Post, Cal Fire said.

In Riverside County, the Sandalwood Fire, which ignited Thursday, is now 823 acres and 10 percent contained, Cal Fire said. At least 74 structures were destroyed.

Molly Sullivan covers crime, breaking news and police accountability for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of Chico State.