Wind whips through the area as firefighters fight impending flames during the Saddleridge Fire in Porter Ranch. | AFP via Getty Images
The Saddleridge Fire is burning at a rate of 800 acres per hour
A map of the Saddleridge Fire perimeter is below and an updated listed of evacuation centers is at the bottom of this story.
With Santa Ana winds still threatening to whip up flames of the Saddleridge Fire—which is burning through wildlands in the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley—mandatory evacuations remain in place in and around Porter Ranch tonight.
Since erupting Thursday night in Sylmar, the Saddleridge Fire has swelled to 7,500 acres and is 13 percent contained. It has burned not as one massive front but as multiple spot fires ignited by gusty winds, ripping through Sylmar, Porter Ranch, and Granada Hills.
“It’s not the fire itself, but the danger of wind taking an ember and blowing it somewhere and seeing entire neighborhoods get lit up overnight,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight at a press conference.
As of tonight, 35 homes have been damaged, with 13 structures completely lost, according to Los Angeles Fire Department chief Ralph Terrazas.
“I saw burns that came up to the backyards of hundreds, if not thousands of homes,” Terrazas said. “That took a lot of effort, and to not have any serious firefighter injuries is amazing.”
A red flag warning from the National Weather Service is in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Northeast winds are expected to gust between 20 and 35 mph across the Valley on Saturday.
“It only takes one ember to start another fire,” Terrazas said. “Embers at this fire have traveled downwind over one mile, that is why we’re being very, very cautious in allowing repopulation.”
Most of the active flames remained in the hills to the north of the Valley, where homes are not under threat. But Los Angeles County Fire chief deputy David Richardson warned residents not to be fooled by what might appear to be a lull.
“There’s a lot of open fire line, a lot of potential for continued growth of this fire,” he said.
All of Porter Ranch, along with a section of Sylmar, remain under mandatory evacuation orders.
Officials said this afternoon that letting residents back into homes is top of mind, but that many neighborhoods remain too dangerous to enter, even if there are no active flames.
“Just because there’s not smoke, doesn’t mean there’s no danger,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember John Lee, whose district includes Porter Ranch and Granada Hills.
The fire broke out around 9 p.m. Thursday near the 210 Freeway at Yarnell Street in Sylmar, amid 50 mph wind gusts and humidity as low as 3 percent. The flames swept west and south after jumping the 5 Freeway, spreading into the “northernmost reaches” of Porter Ranch.
“You can imagine the embers thrown in the wind have been traveling a significant distance,” Terrazas said. TV news reporters on scene have described the firefight as a game of “whack-a-mole.” Richardson called Thursday night’s winds “devastating.”
Evacuations are in place in Porter Ranch, north of the 118 Freeway, from Reseda to Iverson; Oakridge Estates, north of the 210 Freeway; and in the area west of Balboa, north of Sesnon to the Ventura County border, with DeSoto as the western border. Evacuations south of the 118 have been lifted.
All mandatory evacuation areas will remain closed through Saturday, although residents north of the 118 may be able to be escorted in by police to collect belongings, medication, or other essential items, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said this evening. Residents should come with proof of identification to Porter Ranch Towncenter at 118 Ronald Reagan Fwy, Northridge, CA 91326 or Target at 11133 Balboa Blvd, Granada Hills, CA 91344.
In addition, several major freeways remain closed, including parts of the 5, 14, 118, 210, and 405. Caltrans is providing detour information. “We are encouraging people to avoid the entire San Fernando Valley region if they don’t need to be there,” a spokesperson said.
Two lanes in both directions on the 5 Freeway have been opened as of this evening.
An estimated 1,000 firefighters were attacking the fires this morning, aided by helicopters and a super scooper.
There has been no cause attributed to the fire, but Terrazas said arson investigators have talked to two witnesses who said they saw sparks from power lines ignite the blaze.
“We are aware of a story out there in the media from a witness who saw fire falling from a transmission tower,” Terrazas said this evening. “We believe that witness, and someone else who said something similar.”
People and small pets
- Lanark Recreation Center: 21816 Lanark St, Canoga Park, CA 91304
- Northridge Recreation Center: 18300 Lemarsh Street, Northridge, CA 91325
- Granada Hills Recreation Center: 16730 Chatsworth St, Granada Hills, CA 91344
- Van Nuys Recreation Center: 14301 Vanowen St, Van Nuys, CA 91405
- Brandford Recreation Center: 13306 Branford Street, Pacoima, CA
- [FULL] Sylmar Recreation Center: 13109 Borden Avenue, Sylmar, CA 91342
- [FULL] Mason Recreation Center: 10500 Mason Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311
Hansen Dam: 11770 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace, CA 91342
If help is needed evacuating large animals, contact East Valley Animal Shelter at (818) 756-9323