SoCal Wildfires Prompt State Of Emergency In 7 Counties

SoCal Wildfires Prompt State Of Emergency In7 Counties

22 October 2007

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Los Angeles, California, USA — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a stateof emergency in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, SantaBarbara and Ventura counties on Sunday night due to the wildfires burning in theregion. The proclamation allows the state Office of Emergency Services to deploypersonnel and equipment to assist in the various fire fights.

Nearly a dozen wildfires driven by powerful Santa Anawinds spread across Southern California on Sunday, killing one person near SanDiego, destroying several homes and a church in celebrity-laden Malibu, andforcing hundreds from their homes.

The Malibu fire was among at least 10 blazes thatburned more than 35,000 acres, stretching from north of Santa Barbara to SanDiego, as hot weather and hurricane-strength winds marked the height of thetraditional wildfire season.

Four firefighters and at least 10 other people wereinjured and taken to hospitals in connection with the fire near San Diego, saidMatt Streck, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry. The blazeburned more than 14,000 acres — or about 22 square miles — near a highwayabout 70 miles southeast of San Diego, just north of the border town of Tecate,Streck said. Some of the injured were hikers, and others may be illegalimmigrants, Streck said.


A brush fire that may have been sparked by downed powerlines swept across Malibu Canyon Sunday, burning about 1,200 acres anddestroying a church and several other structures in the beach-side community.

  • Oct. 21, 2007
  • Santa Ana winds gusting up to 60 mph spread the fire, which began just before 5 a.m., in two directions from its ignition point, which firefighters said was at Malibu Canyon Road about a half-mile south of the tunnel.

    On Sunday night, the following road and school closures were known:

    In Malibu, road closures include Malibu Canyon Road, Kanan Road and Topanga Canyon. PCH is closed at Topanga through Kanan Road, and a detour is available.

    Malibu School Closures:

  • All Malibu public schols are closed on Monday.
  • Newroads K-8 will not be in session.
  • Preschool at Malibu Jewish Center is closed.
  • Call ahead to check on Our Lady of Malibu.
  • Viewpoint School in Calabasas is closed.
  • Pepperdine University is closed. Student midterms will be rescheduled.
  • Agua Dulce, Canyon Country

    A brush fire dubbed the Buckweek Fire broke out west of Agua Dulce on Sunday and exploded to 10,000-plus acres by early evening and was threatening the Canyon Country area, where about 800 people were evacuated and three people were reported injured.

    The Buckweed Fire has caused the following road closures: Vasquez Canyon, Bouquet Canyon and Francisquito.

    The Saugus Union School District has closed all its schools. Check other district Web sites for other closures.

    Also, A High Wind Advisory is in effect from Avenue J in Lancaster to the Los Angeles/Kern County line, and travel is not recommended for campers, trailers or permit loads.

    As of 6:45 p.m., at least 10 structures had been lost in the wind-driven fire, and mandatory evacuations were ordered in Vasquez Canyon, Bouquet Canyon and parts of San Francisquito Canyon, said Los Angeles county fire Inspector Sam Padilla. Evacuation centers were set up at Quartz Hill High School, 6040 W. Avenue L, and Saugus High School, 21900 Centurion Way.

    The fire began in Mint Canyon shortly before 1 p.m., and 40 mph winds in the area fanned the fire, which exploded in size late in the afternoon.

    “I’ve seen fires over the years where eventually it got to where we knew it was going to get to, but not as quick as this fire did today from Agua Dulce,” county fire Inspector Rick Dominguez said on Sunday evening. “… Two or three hours ago we had people calling, and we were saying it’s starting to die down a little bit, but once that wind picks up … And, as you can see and know, it’ll die down in the afternoon and start picking up in the evening as it’s doing, and it just has a mind of its own.”

    The blaze was one of several burning in Los Angeles County, where firefighting resources were stretched thin.

    “We have a lot of resources that are assisting, and they’re all being utilized at this moment,” county fire Inspector Ron Haralson told NBC4. “We’ve got our hands full throughout Los Angeles County.”

    About 300 firefighters were on the ground in the Canyon Country area, and more strike teams were being called in, Dominguez said.

    “We’re going to try to get those Superscoopers to drop on that fireline and hopefully they can make some headway on that,” he said, adding that crews on the ground “already are starting to build a line around the homes that are threatened.”

    He said helicopters would continue to make water drops into the evening.

    Orange County

    A brush fire that broke out in the vicinity of Silverado Canyon and Santiago Canyon roads in east Orange early Sunday crossed the 241 toll road was threatening some homes, a fire official said.

    The flames were headed toward the Northwood and Portola Springs residential areas, according to Orange County Fire Department Capt. Stephen Miller, who said the wind-whipped blaze started just before 6 p.m. and grew quickly.

    The fire was initially said to be about 20 acres in size, and was “probably in the hundreds” within the hour, Miller said.

    No injuries or structural damage were reported as of 7 p.m., he said, adding that winds were between 35 and 45 mph.

    The fire was burning along the Foothill Transportation Corridor (241) near the Bee Canyon access road, according to reports from the scene. The 241 was shut down between the Eastern Transportation Corridor (133) and Chapman Avenue, and Santiago Canyon Road was closed between Chapman Avenue and Modjeska Canyon Road.


    A wind-driven fire that broke out in the Angeles National Forest near Castaic had blacked more than 1,500 acres and burned in a south-southwesterly direction away from the Golden State (5) Freeway.

    The so-called “Ranch Fire,” which was visible from the freeway, had blackened between 1,500 and 2,000 acres in northern Los Angeles County as of 1:30 p.m., with no injuries were reported, according to Kathy Peterson of the U.S. Forest Service.

    Porter Ranch

    Firefighters contained a brush fire that consumed at least 20 acres of vegetation today near Porter Ranch, a city fire department spokesperson said.

    According to Los Angeles city fire spokesperson Brian Humphrey, it took about 100 firefighters a little more than three hours to contain the fire in the area of Tampa Avenue and Sesnon Boulevard, after being dispatched to the scene at 5:50 a.m.

    Witch Creek

    A wind-driven brush fire in the northeast part of San Diego County near the Santa Ysabel Indian Reservation swallowed up 5,000 acres and was threatening structures, authorities said.

    The blaze began burning for unknown reasons about 12:40 p.m. at Deer Canyon and Julian roads in the Witch Creek area, according to California Highway Patrol.

    As of 7:30 p.m., the blaze had burned across Sutherland Dam Road to the west and Rancho Santa Theresa to the south, a Cal Fire official said.

    Evacuations were being carried out in the Witch Creek area, Old Julian Highway, and to the north east side of San Diego Country Estates, according to Cal Fire.

    The heart of the fire was about five miles from Ramona, an unincorporated town of about 36,000 residents.

    Highway 78 in the area of the fire was closed, as was Old Julian Highway between Ramona and Santa Ysabel. Highway 79, north of the reservation, was also closed and traffic was being re-routed to Highway 76.

    An evacuation center was set up for displaced residents at Poway High School at 15500 Espola Road. If necessary, it would become an overnight shelter, said American Red Cross spokeswoman Gayle Falkenthal.


    People were ordered to evacuate an RV park in Aguanga today because of a brush fire that has burned about 125-acres of vegetation near Highway 371 and further south near Highway 79, a fire official said.

    The fire was reported just before 4 p.m. near Highway 371 and Roca Vista Road, and spread south to Highway 79, said Cheri Patterson of the Riverside County Fire Department.

    The fire, which was moving southwest, was 20 percent contained, Patterson said.

    One person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Patterson said.

    A four-mile stretch of Highway 371 was shut down between Wilson Valley Road and Highway 79, Patterson said.

    About 200 residents of the Jojoba Hills RV park were ordered to evacuate the campground and flee to an evacuation center that was set up at the Temecula Community Center, 30875 Rancho Vista Road, near Margarita Road, in Temecula, said Riverside County fire Capt. Fernando Herrera.

    About 200 firefighters at the scene were expected to stay throughout the night, he said.


    A wind-fueled brush fire in rural southern San Diego County that has grown to 14,000 acres killed one person Sunday and injured 17 others, including four firefighters hospitalized in serious condition.

    As of late afternoon, multiple homes had been lost in the so-called Harris Fire, which began about 9:30 a.m. near Harris Ranch and Potrero Valley roads in Portrero and was burning on both sides of Highway 94, authorities said.

    The communities of Potrero, Tecate, Dulzura and parts of Deerhorn Valley have been evacuated, according to Cal Fire.

    “This is about as worse (as) fire condition(s) can get,” said Cal Fire Capt. Matt Streck, who said ground crews focused on evacuating residents rather than protecting property due to the speed of the blaze.

    The fire was burning along two fronts to the northwest, with the southern “head” burning past Barrett Lake Road south of Highway 94 and the northern flank moving toward Mother Grundy Peak, Cal Fire reported.

    The fire was being driven by Santa Ana winds of 30 to 35 mph, with occasional stronger gusts, according to Cal Fire.

    Cal Fire said the conflagration was about 5 percent contained.

    Authorities did not immediately identify the person who perished in the blaze or the circumstances or location of the death. Twelve other civilians were burned, but officials did not elaborate or provide condition reports.

    “With all of the burn injuries to civilians, this indicates how extremely dangerous these fires can be,” Cal Fire’s Roxanne Provaznik said. “Residents are strongly advised to follow evacuation orders give by law enforcement.”

    The four firefighters were airlifted to the UC San Diego Burn Center. According to a Cal Fire dispatcher, the firefighters’ injuries, while serious, did not appear to be life-threatening.

    Authorities said the firefighters were trapped in a so-called “burn- over.” They were overcome by towering flames that shot over their heads, apparently while defending a structure — similar to what happened last October when five firefighters were killed in the Esperanza wildfire in Riverside County.

    Displaced residents flocked to a Spring Valley high school set up as an evacuation center this afternoon, all desperate for information about the fire.

    “There’s no way of telling — it doesn’t seem to be letting up. We just started the upswing,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Amy Hegy said, referring to the influx of evacuees to Steele Canyon High School.

    About 50 people — most notified by a reverse 911 system — had shown up at the school as of late afternoon. Among them was Dulzura resident Joseph Sackrider.

    “You could see the smoke bellowing up over the hill, (and) then it really took off after that with the wind,” Sackrider said.

    Highway 94 was closed between Harris Ranch Road and Otay Lakes Road.

    In addition to Steele Canyon High in Spring Valley, 12440 Campo Road, the Red Cross was directing evacuees to the Campo Community Center in Campo, 976 Sheridan Road, said spokeswoman Gayle Falkenthal.

    More than 300 firefighters were battling the Santa Ana wind-fueled flames. For a time this afternoon, airtankers and helicopters were grounded due to heavy smoke, but were allowed back in the air about 5:15 p.m.

    The Harris Fire was one of two brush fires burning in the county. Another blaze, dubbed the Witch Fire, between Ramona and Julian also had topped 5,000 acres by late Sunday afternoon, but no injuries were reported.

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