SAN CLARITA, Calif. — Firefighters appear to be gaining control of the Sand Fire, which has been burning in the Santa Clarita area since Friday.
More than 3,000 firefighters have worked to increase containment of the blaze to 40 percent by Wednesday morning, according to the federal InciWeb information page on the fire.
The Sand Fire has scorched 38,346 acres, or about 59 square miles, in the Santa Clarita area and the Angeles National Forest.
One person has died in the blaze, at least 18 homes have burned and 20,000 residents had been evacuated, according to fire authorities. On Monday evening, the fire department announced that most of the evacuated residents have been allowed to re-enter the area.
On Tuesday, acting California Gov. Tom Torlakson issued emergency proclamations for both fires in Los Angeles and Monterey counties. Torlakson is standing in for Gov. Jerry Brown, who is attending the Democratic National Convention.
Towering columns of smoke could be seen from miles away, highlighting the dangers of the Sand Fire, named for the area’s Sand Canyon. Ash rained down and red skies became the backdrop.
Joey Marron, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said Tuesday the fight was going pretty well.
“We set some backfires overnight in some of our areas of concern and this gave us space to contain the fire. We should be good, if the winds don’t pick up. It’s still very hot out there.”
Fire takes a heavy toll
The extent of the fire’s damage could be seen from satellite images that showed the burn scars left on the hills and canyons.
The wildfire broke out Friday afternoon and quickly spread about 10,000 acres a day.
A man’s body was found in a burned-out car near one neighborhood where a home was singed. Detectives were trying to determine whether the man was killed by the blaze or another cause. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there was no indication his death was a criminal event. The man’s identity is so far unknown.
Of the 18 homes destroyed, three of them belonged to firefighters and four of the structures had been occupied by Forest Service employees.
The fire also burned parts of the Sable Ranch, where many movies and TV shows were shot, reducing film sets to charred piles of burnt wood and metal. Productions that used the ranch included “The A Team,” “Invisible Man” with Chevy Chase,” “Terror From Above” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” according to the ranch website.
“It tore through here in a blink,” Derek Hunt manager of the Sable Ranch told CNN.
Hunt stood atop a ridge looking over canyons filled with film sets.
“I’ve been so busy it hasn’t hit me what we lost, all this history,” he said, swallowing hard in 100 degree choking heat. “I’m going to rebuild. We have to.”