The fires have been massive. Flames were out of control from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, the Skirball Fire, Ojai The Creek Fire in Sylmar, and at one point a fire broke out in Orange and Riverside Counties. As the fires grew, flames grew close to he Getty Museum and Mayor Eric Garcetti proclaimed a local state of emergency.
Firefighters from various agencies and regions worked to contain the fires. Helicopters and Superscoopers dropped water from the air. The stubborn, wind-driven Creek brush fire that raged through the hills above Sylmar threatened thousands of homes continued spreading by press time today with more than 100,000 residents remaining under evacuation orders.
The blaze, which broke out at 3:42 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads in the Kagel Canyon area, was estimated at 14,000 acres by midday Wednesday. More than 900 firefighters were working to extinguish the fire, which was still zero percent contained.
The fires have posed very challenging days for those on the ground fighting the blaze and of course, heartbreaking for residents whose houses burned to the ground.While grateful that they were safe, they were devastated they no longer had a home.
It was equally painful for owners who lost the businesses and livelihoods. Many ranchers living in rural areas lost their much loved horses.
“I just remodeled my house, and I love my neighborhood and neighbors. This is so sad and I’m just trying to process all of this,” said one man, who watched a neighbor’s house burn while he used a garden hose to water his roof.
Fire officials point out that fire season is all year long, anytime the wind kicks up. “Even the smallest fire can grow in a instant,” said Brian Humphrey, LAFD spokesperson.
Humphrey said investigators will be looking into the question that many asked: How did these fires get started? He pointed out that it doesn’t take much for fires to get started and even referenced a story, not related to these fires, where people were using a blowtorch to kill spiders in their attic.
Fire officials told residents to always be in a prepared mode to be “proactive not reactive.”
It was recommended that important papers and other crucial items be ready to pick up and go if you are ever asked to quickly evacuate your home.
In the Creek Fire above Sylmar, 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.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday evacuation orders were affecting about 150,000 residents, but a Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman put the number at around 120,000. Police said the evacuation order could remain in place through Thursday afternoon.
An estimated 2,500 structures were threatened 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.
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas warned that the battle was likely to continue until at least Friday. The LAPD was placed on a citywide tactical alert, which allows commanders maximum flexibility in deploying resources.
As the fire burned on Tuesday, the Foothill (210) Freeway was closed in both directions between the Golden State (5) Freeway and the Glendale (2) Freeway, but the freeway had been reopened by Wednesday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.
As the fire expanded and jumped south of the Foothill Freeway on Tuesday, so did the mandatory evacuation area. Evacuations were initially ordered in the area north of the Foothill Freeway from Glenoaks Boulevard on the west to the border with La Crescenta on the east.
But by early Tuesday afternoon, the eastern boundary of the evacuation area had been expanded to the Haynes Canyon area. And an area south of the Foothill Freeway was ordered evacuated in Shadow Hills between Sunland Boulevard to the south, Wentworth Street to the north and Tuxford Street to the west, officials said.
Seventeen evacuation centers were opened throughout the San Fernando Valley, and all were accepting evacuees and pets. 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, which was at capacity Wednesday afternoon and not accepting additional animals.
Other sites remain open.
Horses and other large animals can be brought to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 2551 W. Avenue H, in Lancaster. For details, call (661) 948-6060. The Expo Center at 16200 Temple Ave. in Industry was also providing stables for horses.
Dogs, cats and small pets can be brought to these locations:
— Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Avenue, in Sylmar;
— West Valley Animal Shelter, 20655 Plummer St., Los Angeles; and
— East Valley Animal Shelter, 14409 Vanowen St., Los Angeles.