High winds, low humidity and dry conditions have accelerated a fire in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, shutting down two freeways and sparking evacuations.
Properties spread across a wide area are now under threat after a brush fire which broke out in a restricted one acre area in Sylmar, north of downtown L.A., around 9 p.m. on Thursday night, quickly spread.
It then gathered momentum as it made its way west toward Granada Hills and is now spread out over 1,600 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The 60 mile per hour gusts have pushed burning debris over the 201 and 5 freeways, shutting them down and igniting more dry brush.
The #SaddleridgeFire in Sylmar is now being considered a âMajor Emergencyâ by the @LAFD. https://t.co/GFOTY28sZB— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) October 11, 2019
The mandatory evacuation zone for the #SaddleRidgeFire is now from Balboa Blvd to the Ventura County line north of Sesnon Blvd. From Sesnon to the 118 freeway, itâs an evac warning zone. Please be prepared. Spread the word to your neighbors, friends & loved ones in those areas. pic.twitter.com/wIlNVdhUaK— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) October 11, 2019
Los Angeles city and county fire officials carried out aerial water drops throughout the night to try thwart the blaze which has destroyed at least one commercial building and at least three homes. So far there are no reports of injuries.
An unnamed owner of a home in Granada Hills told KCBS-TV he had to evacuate his family quickly without having time to collect his belongings. "It was surreal. We left with the clothes on our back," he said.
Meanwhile, Christie Lugo Leigh, a resident who got her daughter and dog to safety but had to leave her belongings behind, described the impact of the fire, saying that "the glow that surrounded us was so bright orange, it looked like it was in our back yard," KTLA reported.
Additional evacuation centers have opened for people impacted by the #SaddleridgeFire.— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) October 11, 2019
Up-to-date information from @LAFD:https://t.co/3Lihf91uY5 pic.twitter.com/adgzROOWOp
Evacuations had been ordered for around 1,900 homes in Oakridge Estates, Glenoaks, the Foothill area and parts of Granada Hills and Porter Ranch.
Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department told Fox 11: "If you live in that area, please just pack up and leave now. Right now, our priority is to protect property, life and limb."
Around 300 children who had been living at a juvenile hall were also evacuated due to the proximity of the blaze, NBC Los Angeles reported. They were given masks and wet clothes and were taken to Los Padrinos in Downey.
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power announced at 10:43 p.m. that power flow along major transmission lines close to the blaze had been shut off to help firefighting the LA Times reported.
The Los Angeles Police Department, working with the Los Angeles Fire Department have issued a citywide alert saying: "We urge you to be prepared & follow all public safety instructions."
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that evacuation centers had been set up for people as well as pets.