Multiple wildfires destroy homes in Los Angeles County
LOS ANGELES — Wind-whipped wildfires were tearing through neighborhoods in northern Los Angeles County, blackening more than 4,500 acres and destroying multiple homes.
Thousands of residents were under evacuation order. The two fires were in addition to the largest blaze, the Thomas fire in Ventura that had destroyed more than 150 homes.
Firefighters from throughout Southern California were mobilized to fight the fires. One was designated the Creek Fire, burning in the in the hilly Sylmar/Lakeview Terrace area of Los Angeles and another farther north was being called the Rye fire, near Santa Clarita.
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At noon, there was no containment of any of the blazes. High winds were hampering the ability of firefighters to bring in water-dropping helicopters and air tankers.
"This is the start a multiple-day weather event so we’re not through this yet," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters at a briefing. "This is not going to be the only fire."
The Creek fire resulted in the closure of the Foothill (210) Freeway, an important east-west connector in the metropolis. The Rye fire shut down Interstate 5, the state's major north-south artery.
Although there was significant destruction from the Creek Fire, both the Los Angeles County blazes paled in size compared to the largest fire (Thomas), which had burned 45,000 acres. Heavy, gray smoke from the fires was visible across Los Angeles.
All three fires were driven by the strongest seasonal Santa Ana winds so far this year. Gusts of more than 40 miles per hour in the fire areas were picking up embers from the burning fields and structures, sending them wafting downwind where they set additional homes on fire.
The Creek fire was listed at 4,000 acres by midday. It began at 3:43 a.m. PT, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Homes were burning but there was no estimate of structure loss yet. Fire officials said a firefighter was injured when the bulldozer he was operating overturned in an attempt to try to cut fire lines on the steep hillsides.
The Rye fire had burned about 500 acres and was threatening structures near the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park.
Power outages were widespread. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's station in Santa Clarita reported its 911 emergency phone system had failed due to a power outage.
"Calls are being rerouted so you will get help!" the station tweeted.
Contributing: John Bacon