Saddleridge Fire burns 7,965 acres, kills 1 in LA


LOS ANGELES — A fast-moving brush fire that sparked in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley late Thursday night burned 7,965 acres, dozens of buildings and caused one death before the flames were brought under control.

All evacuation orders were lifted Saturday evening, and by 7:30 p.m.

As of Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m., Cal Fire officials said the fire was 41% contained with a total of 7,965 acres burned.

The blaze, dubbed the Saddleridge Fire, was reported just after 9 p.m. in the Sylmar area. Residents of nearby Porter Ranch and Granada Hills were also impacted by the blaze, with around 23,000 homes under evacuation orders, according to KABC (see our detailed list of evacuations below).

Flames had scorched roughly 4,700 acres and firefighters had 0% containment as of about 7 a.m. Friday, officials said in a news conference. An L.A. fire chief said the blaze was growing at an estimated rate of 800 acres each hour.

During a news conference Friday evening, officials said the fire had damaged 31 structures, 13 of which were destroyed.

At least 16,000 homes remained under mandatory evacuations Friday evening as firefighters managed to reach 13% containment of the blaze, fire officials and police said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday evening at least 70,000 were still affected by the evacuations.

The first death from the fire was reported Friday morning. Officials said a man in his late 50s who lived near the fire suffered a heart attack and died overnight. The man had been trying to protect his home with a hose when he went into cardiac arrest, neighbors told KTLA.

A firefighter also suffered a minor eye injury.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation as arson investigators follow up on reports saying a man witnessed the fire start near a power line in Sylmar, LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said.

In San Diego, residents were under a “red flag” fire warning Thursday and Friday due to low humidity and gusty winds.

Read more about possible SDG&E blackouts and San Diego County’s fire risk here

Mandatory Evacuations*

Evacuation Zones View Full Size Map

Mandatory evacuations were in place for at least 23,000 homes in the following areas.

  • ALL of Porter Ranch (north of 118 Freeway) from Reseda to De Soto
  • Oakridge Estates
  • West of Balboa, north of Sesnon to the Ventura County border with DeSoto as the western border (north of the 118 Freeway)

As some evacuation centers were filled to capacity Friday, authorities opened additional facilities throughout the San Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles Fire Department announced Friday that the following centers were open.

  • Branford Recreation Center at 3306 Brandford St. in Arleta
  • Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center at 14201 Huston St. in Sherman Oaks
  • Lanark Recreation Center at 21816 Lanark St. in Canoga Park
  • Northridge Recreation Center at 18300 Lemarsh St. in Northridge
  • Granada Hills Recreation Center at 16730 Chatsworth St.
  • Balboa Sports Center at 17015 Burbank Blvd. in Encino 

L.A. City Councilman John Lee said women who are pregnant or have other special needs were able to find shelter at the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, with evacuees accepted on a “case-by-case” basis.

Large animals were taken to the following facilities:

  • Hansem Dam: 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace
  • Pierce College: 6201 Winnetka Blvd. in Woodland Hills

Counilwoman Rodriguez urged anyone needing information about evacuations to text READY to 888777.

*Editor’s Note: All evacuation orders were lifted by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Freeway Closures

Long stretches of major L.A. freeways were shut down during the blaze. Those that remained open were filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. California Highway Patrol provided a complete list of highway closures:

Amtrak Thruway Bus Service was disrupted between Bakersfield and Los Angeles due to the blaze. Check the transportation’s website for updates.

School Closures

Dozens of schools in three counties have closed Friday as a result of the fire. The Los Angeles Times issued the following list of closures:

Santa Clarita:

  • William S. Hart Union High School District
  • Castaic Union School District
  • Sulphur Springs Union School District
  • Newhall School District

Los Angeles County:

  • Cal State Northridge
  • Pierce College
  • Los Angeles Mission College
  • Bert Corona High School and Bert Corona Charter School
  • Castlebay Lane Charter
  • Chaminade College Preparatory Middle School
  • Danube Avenue Elementary
  • Granada Hills Charter High School’s Devonshire and Zelzah campuses
  • El Oro Way Charter for Enriched Studies
  • Frost Middle School
  • Haskell Elementary STEAM Magnet
  • Jane Addams Continuation High School
  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • Knollwood Preparatory Academy
  • North Valley Military Institute
  • Porter Ranch Community School
  • Rinaldi Adult School
  • Valley International Preparatory High School
  • Van Gogh Charter

Ventura County:

  • Filmore Unified School District
  • Los Cerritos Middle School and Lang Ranch Elementary School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District
  • MATES charter school in Thousand Oaks
  • Mupu School near Santa Paula
  • All Simi Valley Unified Schools

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