Wildfire outside Los Angeles grows to 5,000 acres; homes threatened

ByJohn Gregory and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Homes threatened by 5,000-acre La Tuna Fire
Mandatory evacuation orders remained in place Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, as the 5,000-acre La Tuna Fire continued to burn in the Verdugo Mountains.

LOS ANGELES -- Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect in Southern California as the La Tuna Fire continues to threaten homes just outside of Los Angeles.

Homes in Burbank and Sunland-Tujunga were evacuated as a brush fire grew to 5,000 acres. The La Tuna Fire was 10 percent contained Saturday morning, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for the Brace Canyon Park area of Burbank. Those Burbank streets under evacuation orders included Haven Way from Joaquin Drive to the top of the hill, Olney Place, Remy Place, Mystic View and View Crest.

Latest evacuation and road closure info for La Tuna Fire

The windswept blaze fire was burning in heavy hillside brush in the Sun Valley and Sunland-Tujunga areas. It began moving over the hills toward Burbank late Friday night.

Additional evacuation orders were also issued for the neighborhood of Lamer Street from Brace Canyon Road to Keystone Street and the Castleman Estates, Burbank police said.

Firefighters moved into structure defense mode to protect homes as residents were advised to evacuate immediately.

Firefighters initially feared the flames would reach homes by midnight Friday. But the structure-protection efforts were able to hold off the flames for a time and as of 7 a.m. Saturday no homes had been damaged, officials said.

Firefighters took the unusual step of keeping their water-dropping helicopters in the air at night, outfitting crew members with night-vision goggles. Officials said those goggles were purchased with funds donated to an LAFD foundation.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department discusses latest developments on the La Tuna Fire.

An evacuation center was established at the Sunland Recreation Center, 8651 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga. Pets are welcome.

The Red Cross was also sending volunteers late Friday night to open another evacuation center in Burbank at McCambridge Park, 1515 North Glenoaks Blvd.

The 210 Freeway was closed in the area from the 2 to the 118 freeways, and remained closed on Saturday morning, fire officials said.

"Firefighters are battling not only 106-degree temperatures today with low relative humidity, but it's also very steep and rugged terrain," Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said Friday. "Fortunately we have no injuries to firefighters."

In the Sunland-Tujunga area, homes on Reverie Road, Tranquil Drive, Inspiration Way, Hillhaven Avenue and Glen O Peace Parkway north of the 210 Freeway were evacuated as the fire continued to grow.

About 200 homes in that area were evacuated, officials said. Firefighters sent additional resources to that neighborhood for structure protection and to assist with evacuations.

In other nearby neighborhoods, nervous residents packed up essentials but stayed near their homes and watched the flames with a mix of fascination and dread.

"It's actually really scary because we've never had a fire this close to us," said Tujunga resident Jessica Fernstrom.

Residents around the foothills are preparing to evacuate as the La Tuna Fire burns hillsides in Burbank and Sunland-Tujunga.

An evacuation center was established at Verdugo Hills High School, 10625 Plainview Ave, Tujunga.

Burbank police also evacuated DeBell Golf Club.

The blaze was first reported around 1:30 p.m. in Sun Valley. Firefighters initially thought they had a good handle on the blaze. It only burned about a quarter acre of brush as it moved uphill.

But shifting winds sparked a second fire as the flames jumped the freeway into Sunland-Tujunga. The shifting conditions, dry brush and high temperatures led to it growing in size quickly.

The fire came amid triple-digit heat in the San Fernando Valley. The temperature in the Sun Valley area hit 106 degrees by mid-afternoon Friday.

In Burbank, additional surface-street closures included Walnut Ave at Sunset Canyon and Harvard Rd at Sunset Canyon.

The flames and smoke did not immediately affect flights out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

More than 400 firefighters from Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena Los Angeles County, Los Angeles city and Angeles National Forest agencies were involved in battling the blaze.

Los Angeles city and county agencies used 10 helicopters and two Super Scoopers to help fight the flames from the air.