California Fire Prompts Nearly 13,000 Evacuations, Threatens Homes and Thousands of Acres

The fire broke out on Thursday night, and as of Friday morning, is zero percent contained

Saddleridge fire
Photo: Michael Owen Baker/AP/Shutterstock

A fast-moving fire spurred on by high winds broke out in Los Angeles on Thursday night, burning down more than 4,000 acres and multiple homes, and forcing the evacuation of nearly 13,000 people in the San Fernando Valley.

The Saddleridge Brush Fire, which started in Sylmar along the 210 Freeway around 9 p.m., tore through the area overnight, and as of 4 a.m. Friday was zero percent contained, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Authorities said an estimated 12,700 homes are facing mandatory evacuation in Porter Ranch from Reseda to De Soto, Oakridge Estates and west of Balboa, north Sesnon to the Ventura County border.

No injuries have been reported so far, though the LAFD said at least one commercial building has been destroyed, as well as multiple homes, the number of which officials have yet to release an estimate.

Saddleridge fire
Saddleridge fire. Michael Owen Baker/AP/Shutterstock

The 210 Freeway has been shut down in both directions between the 5 and 118 freeways, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The wind got behind it. It’s a wind-driven fire,” Al Poirier, chief deputy of emergency operations for the LAFD, said at a press conference Thursday night. “We added a bunch of resources to it to try and get a hold of it, but obviously the weather and the fuels have allowed it to expand.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that winds in the area reached up to 60 miles per hour at the time the blaze broke out.

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“Because of the wind-driven factor, it creates a more defensive posture for firefighters,” Los Angeles firefighter John Ferrer told the outlet. “We wait until the wind dies down and can deploy adequate resources to contain the flanks of the fire and an early morning attack on the fire. But at this time we’re in flux.”

At least 10 schools were closed on Friday as multiple agencies tended to the blaze, NBC News reports.

The Saddleridge fire comes nearly one year after the devastating Woolsey Fire, which broke out in Malibu on Nov. 8 and burned through 96,949 acres before it was contained on Nov. 22.

That blaze came the same time as the Camp Fire in Butte County, California, which went on to become the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history.

At least 88 people were killed and 18,000 structures destroyed in the Camp Fire flames, according to the Insurance Information Institute, citing Cal Fire statistics.

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