Wildfires force frantic evacuations near LA; 2 die
LA Governor has declared a state of emergency. A fire in Porter Ranch has scorched more than 5,000 acres and 19 homes. The Marek fire near Lake View Terrace has burned 5,300 acres.
The dry and warm Santa Ana winds typically blow between October and February. As they whistle through Southern California canyons and valleys, they accelerate, drying out vegetation and hastening the spread of any fires that erupt. Now news is coming that Two huge wildfires driven by strong Santa Ana winds burned into neighborhoods near Los Angeles on Monday, forcing frantic evacuations on smoke- and traffic-choked highways, destroying homes and causing at least two deaths.
Two huge wildfires driven by strong Santa Ana winds burned into neighbourhoods near Los Angeles on Monday, forcing frantic evacuation
on smoke-and traffic-choked highways, destroying homes and causing at least two deaths.
More than 1,000 firefighters and nine water-dropping aircraft battled the 5,300-acre (2,145-hectare) Marek Fire at the northeast end of the San Fernando Valley, and the 3,000-acre (1,200-hectare) Sesnon Fire in the Porter Ranch area at the west end. Winds blew up to 45 mph (72 kph) with gusts reaching 70 mph (113 kph).
Authorities confirmed more than three-dozen mobile homes burned at the Marek Fire and TV news helicopter crews counted about 10 homes destroyed by the Sesnon Fire. Both fires also consumed commercial sites.
Firefighters were struggling with the resurgent, day-old Marek Fire when the new blaze erupted at midmorning a few miles (kilometres) to the west.
"It is a blowtorch we can't get in front of," said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Frank Garrido.
Fire officials alerted communities as far south as Malibu, 20 miles (30 kilometres) away, as an ominous dark plume streamed over rows of homes. Fire officials could not immediately estimate how many homes were in the path of the Sesnon Fire.
Residents were not allowed to drive into one of Porter Ranch's gated communities because officials wanted to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles. Instead they parked their cars, ran to their homes and carried out whatever they could carry in pillow cases, in their arms, sacks and suitcases. Some ran out clutching paintings.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief P Michael Freeman warned people not to stay home after evacuation orders had been given, as the flames were moving so rapidly.
"You may not be able to even outrun this fire," Freeman said. Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Frank Garrido said one person was killed in a head-on collision around midday when police closed the 118 Freeway because of flames. TV news helicopters showed vehicles turning around and driving against traffic to use an on-ramp as an exit.
Earlier, a fatality was discovered at the Marek Fire, an area where neighbourhoods abut rugged canyonlands below the mountainous Angeles National forest. The man appeared to have been a transient living in a makeshift shelter, officials said.
About 1,200 people evacuated due to the Marek Fire, which was just 5 per cent contained.
Mobile home park resident Glenn Bell said he and another park resident broke a padlock on an emergency exit gate to escape at daybreak. "If we hadn't broke open that gate, there would be people dead up there," he said.