Flames scorch Southland for third day, troublesome winds expected to calm

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.President George W. Bush is scheduled to fly to fire-ravaged Southern California this week as part of an aggressive federal response to blazes that have charred nearly 250,000 acres. And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured various areas around the Southland on Tuesday, including a stop in Santa Clarita during an evening news conference. He thanked firefighters for their efforts and praised the coordination between agencies. Then he stressed that now is the time to focus on those whose homes – and a lifetime of savings and hard work – went up in flames. “The key thing in all of this is that we help people rebuild their homes as quickly as possible,” he said. “We all have to work together. It’s all one family.” While firefighters are hoping that easing Santa Anas will aid efforts to corral the flames, stubborn hot spots remained. Fires erupted Tuesday afternoon in Newhall, a flare-up from a pre-dawn fire near Sierra Highway and San Fernando Road. As officials began assessing the toll of Southern California’s ferocious firestorms Tuesday, new blazes flared up in Newhall and Acton and threatened more homes, forced evacuations and strained resources already pushed to the brink. The fires erupted as more than 500,000 residents of San Diego were evacuated and hundreds of homes were destroyed in a pair of wildfires in the mountain resort community of Lake Arrowhead. While howling Santa Ana winds that had gusted up to 100 mph are expected to calm by this afternoon, forecasters said the monster windstorm’s ferocity and duration has been virtually unprecedented. “This is the Godzilla; this is a 100-hours event,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Ca ada Flintridge. “The Santa Anas will definitely be waning … This will definitely give us some relief.” Residents in and around Wildwood Canyon Road were evacuated in the afternoon as flames rose near their homes. As smoke plumes filled the skies above this high-end rustic neighborhood, residents made their way down canyon roads to safer ground. Evacuating horses After getting her horse Guapo out of harm’s way, Lindsey Caneron, 17, of Valencia returned to the Wildwood Equestrian Center, where at least 40 to 50 horses were removed Tuesday. “I had to evacuate my horse earlier today, and these guys are like my family, so of course I came to help,” Caneron said as she and a half-dozen others led the horses quickly down Maple Street toward trailers. The mandatory evacuation was a first for many long-time residents. “This is one of the worst wind conditions,” said 17-year resident Susan Sabatino, 53, who lives on Cross Street with her husband, Dominick. About 200 firefighters and several water-dropping aircraft battled the 40-acre blaze and appeared to have it under control late Tuesday. Meanwhile, in the mountains between the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys near Acton, about 250 firefighters battled a blaze that broke out about 2:45 p.m. and briefly threatened homes before heading toward forest land. Evacuations were in progress when the fire changed direction, but it still had blackened about 20 acres by late Tuesday before it was fully contained A second fire broke out at 4 p.m. alongside the Antelope Valley Freeway north of Crown Valley Road, but was held to about two acres. Of bigger concern, however, is the Buckweed Fire that has been burning since Sunday on a destructive path from Agua Dulce through Canyon Country and Saugus. On Tuesday, the fire was headed into the northern Angeles National Forest, and by mid-day was moving toward Lake Hughes. The 37,812-acre blaze has destroyed 32 structures, including 15 homes, and by Tuesday evening was 80 percent contained. Firefighters from Alhambra – along with scores of out-of-town forces called in to help – went door-to-door in Canyon Country, where the fire destroyed several homes Sunday night. “The houses that had damage, we’re checking them out and we’re checking for embers,” Fire Engineer Mark Kolb said. “They found burning embers in a gutted house down the road.” Kolb’s crew also saved several homes in the area, as well as a Rottweiler tethered in the backyard of a heavily damaged home. “It was against the fence just 5 feet or so from flames,” Alhambra Capt. Michael Morales said. “Nobody was home.” Five people have been injured in the blaze, among them Jim Tyndell, operations director at a therapeutic equestrian center in Saugus for children with disabilities. Tyndell had stayed Sunday to save 11 horses at Heads Up Therapy in rustic Bouquet Canyon, said Michael Holt, the organization’s president. Burned helping out He is hospitalized at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital and is scheduled to undergo skin grafts for burns to his torso, Holt said. Tyndell’s home on the property was destroyed and several Heads Up buildings were damaged. The center’s horses were moved from stables to an arena area and survived the fire. In Malibu, blazes have scorched 4,400 acres and nearly a dozen homes and businesses, but by Tuesday, the so-called Canyon Fire posed little imminent danger. The fire was 75 percent contained as of Tuesday evening. “Right now, it’s looking good,” said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Rick Dominguez. “There’s no active fire and no homes threatened.” Among the ruins: the landmark Malibu Presbyterian Church and the Kashan Castle, also known as Hodge Castle, a hilltop landmark built in 1978. Nearly 900 firefighters, including 17 county hand crews, were standing by to douse any recurrent hot spots. Meanwhile, authorities reopened Pacific Coast Highway on Tuesday evening, and Pepperdine University – which Sunday was surrounded by flames – was scheduled to reopen for classes and programs today. In sharp contrast, the Ranch Fire in the Castaic area continued to ravage a swath across northern Los Angeles County and into neighboring Ventura County. More than 47,000 acres have burned, leaving the ruins of three homes, four barns and a boat storage yard in the blaze’s wake. It was 10 percent contained as of Tuesday evening. Residents in Piru and Fillmore along Highway 126 were bracing for the oncoming fire, which started Sunday in Castaic and had destroyed seven structures and 14 stored boats before continuing west. It jumped from the Angeles National Forest to the Los Padres National Forest, both of which will remain closed as long as prime fire conditions continue, officials said. Saving mobile homes Meanwhile, residents of mobile-home park Canyon Breeze Village were recovering after a fire broke out on a nearby hill late Monday and quickly destroyed two homes and the pool house. Neighbor Ana Espinoza, collecting burned items from her porch Tuesday morning, said her husband, Hector, had awakened others and hosed down embers. “My husband, he saved our house, our neighbor’s houses,” she said. “All these people were asleep. He got the hose and he threw buckets of water on things that were burning.” Firefighters still were battling a blaze ignited by a welder’s torch Monday afternoon near Six Flags California’s Magic Mountain. Called the Magic Fire, it was 93 percent contained by late Tuesday after burning 1,750 acres of thick brush near Stevenson Ranch. Firefighters hoped to have it fully contained by 8 a.m. today. Fire officials say today should prove pivotal in helping get a handle on the raging wildfires as temperatures also begin to cool. “The bottom line,” Patzert said, “the large lady is not done yodeling `Santa Anas.”‘ Staff Writer Karen Maeshiro contributed to this report. [email protected] (661) 257-5251 — Major wildfires burning in California, by county according to the Associated Press: San Diego County Witch Fire: About 196,420 acres in northern San Diego County between Witch Creek to Rancho Santa Fe. One percent contained; 500 homes, 100 businesses and 50 outbuildings destroyed; 375 other structures damaged, including 250 homes and 50 businesses. Two civilians and 12 firefighters injured. Harris Fire: About 72,000 acres about 70 miles southeast of San Diego north of the border town of Tecate. Ten percent contained; between 200 and 500 structures destroyed or damaged. 1,500 homes threatened. One civilian killed, 21 civilians and five firefighters injured. Rice Fire: At least 7,500 acres in Fallbrook in northern San Diego County. Ten percent containment; 206 homes and 2 commercial properties destroyed. One firefighter injured. Poomacha Fire: 20,000 acres on the La Jolla Indian Reservation and in northeastern San Diego County. No containment; Fifty homes destroyed. Ten firefighters injured. Los Angeles County Buckweed Fire: About 37,812 acres south of Agua Dulce in northeastern Los Angeles County. Eighty percent contained; 32 homes, 17 outbuildings and 40 vehicles destroyed. Four people injured. About 15,000 people and 5,500 homes evacuated. Canyon Fire: About 4,500 acres in coastal community of Malibu. 75 percent contained; six homes, two businesses, a church destroyed and nine homes, five commercial buildings damaged. Four people injured. About 1,500 people, including several celebrities, evacuated. Magic Fire: About 1,750 acres in northern Los Angeles County, including Stevenson Ranch. 93 percent contained with full containment expected Wednesday. No damages or injuries. The fire was accidentally started by construction workers welding in the area. Ventura County: Ranch Fire: About 47,240 acres in the Castaic area near Piru. Ten percent contained; three homes, four outbuildings destroyed, 500 homes and 50 commercial buildings threatened. No injuries reported. Orange County: Santiago Fire: About 18,000 acres east of Irvine. Thirty percent contained; 10 homes, 2 outbuildings destroyed. Four minor injuries to firefighters. About 3,000 people evacuated. San Bernardino County Slide Fire: More than 4,000 acres in Green Valley Lake area of the San Bernardino Mountains, east of Lake Arrowhead. At least 125 homes destroyed, 400 homes threatened and several communities evacuated. Grass Valley Fire: More than 1,000 acres in Grass Valley area northwest of Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains. At least 300 homes destroyed, 10,000 homes threatened. Many mountain resort communities and a hospital evacuated. Santa Barbara County: Sedgewick Fire: 710 acres near Los Olivos. Fully contained. No evacuations. No homes destroyed and no reports of injuries.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img