Creek Fire forces evacuations of 250,000 people in San Fernando Valley

LOS ANGELES -- Fire crews continued working Wednesday on an out-of-control brush fire that erupted in the Angeles National Forest about 4 miles east of Sylmar early Tuesday morning and prompted the temporary closure of the 210 Freeway.

About 30 structures were destroyed in the fire, including 20 in the Kagel Canyon area and 10 in the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Fire Department stated in an update. Some 2,500 homes remain threatened.

Firefighters face the glow from the Creek Fire on Dec. 6, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

Firefighters face the glow from the Creek Fire on Dec. 6, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

The fire has burned 12,605 acres – or about 20 square miles – as of Wednesday evening, the InciWeb incident information website posted just before 7 p.m.

Helicopter crews are working to map the fire and get a more exact acreage estimate. At a 4 p.m. news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the acreage remained at 11,377 but that number could climb with figures to be released by Cal Fire later in the evening.

City fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said in the morning that officials believe the fire has likely grown past 14,000 acres but have not yet confirmed the number.

Containment reached 5 percent as of late afternoon.

A woman takes a photo as the Creek Fire burns behind a hillside near houses in the Shadow Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, on December 5, 2017.
More than a thousand firefighters were struggling to contain a wind-whipped brush fire in southern California on December 5 that has left at least one person dead, sent thousands fleeing, and was choking the area with thick black smoke. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly 1,100 personnel have been called to respond to the fire, which was being pushed by wind gusts between 50 and 65 mph, authorities said. Two Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters were injured battling the blaze – one in a bulldozer rollover and another by the explosion of a propane tank. Both are doing well, Terrazas said.

The county Sheriff's Department estimated about 250,000 people were under an evacuation order; in the afternoon Garcetti said 110,000 households were affected.

The fire crossed the 210 Freeway between Sunland Boulevard and Wheatland Avenue Tuesday night. The freeway was closed through the day Tuesday but reopened about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

A mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for the area north of the 210 Freeway from Lowell Boulevard on the east to the Glenoaks Boulevard off ramp on the west. Evacuations have also been ordered in the Shadow Hills area, between Wentworth Street to the north, Wheatland Avenue on the west and Sunland Boulevard to the south.

Several evacuation centers were open to the thousands in need at the following locations:

  • Sylmar Recreation Center (13109 Borden Ave., Sylmar)
  • Branford Recreation Center (13306 Branford St., Pacoima)
  • Ritchie Valens Recreation Center (10736 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Pacoima)
  • Sun Valley Recreation Center (8133 Vineland Ave., Sun Valley)
  • Sepulveda Recreation Center (8825 Kester Ave., Panorama City)
  • Granada Hills Recreation Center (16730 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills)
  • Stonehurst Recreation Center (9901 Dronefield Ave., Sun Valley)
  • Valley Plaza Recreation Center (12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood)
  • North Hollywood Recreation Center (11430 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood)
  • Chatsworth South Recreation Center (22360 Devonshire St., Chatsworth)
  • Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Recreation Center (14201 Huston St., Sherman Oaks)
  • Mason Recreation Center (10500 Mason Ave., Chatsworth)
  • Balboa Recreation Center (17015 Burbank Blvd., Encino)
  • Lanark Recreation Center (21816 Lanark St., Canoga Park)
  • Chevy Chase Recreation Center (4165 Chevy Chase Drive, Atwater Village)
  • Yosemite Recreation Center (1840 Yosemite Drive, Eagle Rock)
  • Woodland Hills Recreation Center (5858 Shoup Ave., Woodland Hills)
  • Delano Recreation Center (15100 Erwin St., Van Nuys)
  • Victory Vineland Recreation Center (11117 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood)
  • Glassell Recreation Center (3650 Verdugo Road, Glassell Park)

For Small Animals:

  • West Valley Animal Shelter (20655 Plummer St., Chatsworth)
  • East Valley Animal Shelter (14409 Vanowen St., Van Nuys)

For Large Animals:

  • Pierce College (6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills)
  • Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (2551 W. Ave. H, Lancaster)

Many Los Angeles Unified schools are closed due to the fire. A full list is on the school district's website.

The fire was first reported about 3:45 a.m. in the 11300 block of North Riverwood Drive, the Los Angeles Fire Department stated in a news release Tuesday night. Earlier, officials said the fire broke out near Gold Creek Road and Little Tujunga Canyon.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.