Los Angeles – Smoky haze from a 20,655-acre wildfire hung over parts of the city Friday, but firefighters helped by good weather canceled most evacuation orders as they made significant gains against the flames.
A return of airflow from the Pacific raised fire-slowing humidity levels, and winds were far calmer than at midweek, when strong, moisture-sapping, dry winds from the interior spread the so-called Topanga fire rapidly in the hills and canyon lands between the northwest edge of Los Angeles and Ventura County suburbs to the west.
Amid the good news were new fire concerns 70 miles east of Los Angeles, where 1,200 people were evacuated from mountain communities because of a 450-acre blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest. And a small fire slumbering in hills above suburban Burbank also awakened, sending up a towering plume at midday.
The Topanga fire overlapping the Los Angeles-Ventura county line was 20 percent contained, up from 5 percent Thursday, and was expected to be 35 percent surrounded by day’s end, said Los Angeles County Deputy Chief Mike Bryant, the incident commander.
“We’re really happy with the weather today. This is a good opportunity for us,” Bryant said at the unified command post in Thousand Oaks. “It is a very, very important day for us in fightingthis fire.”
Evacuations were canceled in 10 areas and remained in effect for two, Lake Manor and Bell Canyon. About 400 people were registered in Red Cross shelters.
Despite the fire’s furious pace over the previous two days, confirmed structure losses stood at just one single-family home, three outbuildings, one storage building and a detached garage.
Fire officials indicated they would continue to focus on the south side of the fire area to keep any flames from jumping U.S. 101 and moving south. Fires northwest of Los Angeles have a history of blowing southward through the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu to the ocean.
Ashes from the fires fell on the production site of the TV show “ER,” actor John Leguizamo told Fox 11 News. “We were shooting in Burbank, and you could smell them. We wrapped the episode last night. You could see the smoke coming on and ashes flying through the trailers,” he said.