A brush fire in the Verdugo Mountains north of Los Angeles grew to 5,000 acres on Saturday morning, threatening homes and keeping the 210 Freeway closed.
Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze overnight and into the morning, and at one point the flames were spreading in four directions at once amid intense heat and erratic winds. One home has burned, but no injuries have been reported, officials said Saturday.
Those firefighters will face another day of triple-digit heat in inland areas of Southern California as a heat wave that has gripped the state continues. The National Weather Service said temperatures could reach 110-115 degrees in the hottest areas, and hillside areas could experience more of the shifting winds that helped fuel what has been dubbed the La Tuna fire.
“There is a lot of unburned fuel” in this area, Terrazas warned, noting that the last fire in the area was at least 30 years ago.
Both Terrazas and Garcetti said the La Tuna fire was the largest in the city’s history in terms of acreage.
“We can’t recall anything larger,” Terrazas said.
The fire was 10% contained Saturday morning, officials said. Winds were blowing between 10 and 15 mph, with humidity at 10% to 15%.
“Our biggest concern is the wind and weather,” Terrazas said. “The erratic weather is our No. 1 challenge. If there’s no wind, this is a relatively easy fire to put out. But when the wind changes, it changes our priorities because other properties become at risk.”
When winds pushed a band of flames over the canyon ridgeline Friday night, authorities ordered those living in the Brace Canyon Park area and Castleman Estates to “leave immediately” and head to evacuation shelters, according to an alert issued by the fire department. The Stough Canyon Nature Center also is under evacuation order.
The overall evacuation order affects hundreds of homes. Burbank police were going door to door early Saturday urging residents to evacuate on Haven Way, Joaquin Drive, Olney Place, Remy Place, Mystic View Place and View Crest Drive. Groton Drive and Hamline Place, east of Stephen Road, also were evacuated.
The fire was burning on multiple fronts southwest of the 210 Freeway, which remained closed Saturday morning between the Glendale Freeway and Sunland Boulevard. It was not known when the freeway would be reopened.
Evacuation centers were set up at McCambridge Park Recreation Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., in Burbank; the Sunland Recreation Center in the 8600 block of Foothill Boulevard in Sunland; and at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road.
Officials warned of poor air quality throughout the region. Burbank police officers were wearing respiratory masks early Saturday and urging residents to stay indoors and avoid outside activities because of the heavy smoke.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Saturday recommended that children, older adults and people with respiratory disease living in smoke-impacted areas stay indoors. Air quality is expected to reach unhealthy levels in portions of the east San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains, according to the air district’s smoke advisory.
Residents in smoke-impacted areas were advised to keep windows and doors closed and avoid vigorous activities, both indoors and outdoors.
“Run your air conditioner if you have one and keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside,” the AQMD smoke advisory said. “Avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.”
Ryan Tanker said he was driving home Friday when he saw the plumes of smoke and phoned his father. James Tanker urged his son to return to their property along Estepa Drive in Sunland-Tujunga.
The two men loaded a trailer and an RV with their possessions, including a filing cabinet full of legal documents and their collection of red wine.
“We’re not savages,” James Tanker quipped.
The Tankers and their neighbors waited outside their homes and watched periodic flare-ups — mindful that a switch in the wind could force them to evacuate.
The heat wave battering most of California has intermittently knocked out power to thousands and helped fuel more than a dozen wildfires. Downtown San Francisco set a record high of 106 degrees Friday. The old record was 103.
Fires this week in Northern California burned homes and forced numerous evacuations.
10:50 a.m.: This article was updated with new information from fire officials’ news conference.
9:30 a.m.: This article was updated with new information about evacuations and weather conditions.
This article was originally posted at 8:10 a.m.