Brush fire burns more than 5,500 acres near Santa Clarita as ash and smoke fill skies

Hot, dry temperatures are expected to hamper the efforts of more than 300 firefighters battling the blaze. Fanned by gusts of up to 35 mph, the fire burned more than 2,000 acres overnight.

A wildfire in the Santa Clarita Valley area has burned more than 5,500 acres, prompting mandatory evacuations in some areas and covering much of the Los Angeles basin with smoke and ash.

The Sand fire, which was reported about 2 p.m. Friday, is 0% contained, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

About 300 residences in unincorporated Little Tujunga Canyon remained under mandatory evacuation orders. Only one structure has burned, fire officials said.

Hot, dry temperatures are expected to hamper the efforts of more than 300 firefighters battling the blaze. Fanned by gusts of up to 35 mph, the fire burned more than 2,000 acres overnight.

Temperatures are expected to reach up to 106 degrees in inland and valley areas Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. A red-flag warning remains in effect for much of the region until midnight.

“When we talk about extreme fire behavior,” said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, “this is what we mean.”

Brush fire Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Joshua Miramontes with L.A. County Engine 82 works the fast-growing brush fire east of Santa Clarita.

Brush fire Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

A helicopter drops water on the fast-growing brush fire east of Santa Clarita.

Brush fire Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

The Santa Clarita wildfire is visible from the Top of Topanga Overlook.

Brush fire Nick Ut / Associated Press

Smoke from the Santa Clarita wildfire is viewed from Monterey Park.

Brush fire Nick Ut / Associated Press

Smoke from the Santa Clarita wildfire looms over L.A. as viewed from Monterey Park.

A cloud of smoke blanketed much of the Los Angeles region Saturday morning, prompting the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory that will remain in effect until midnight Sunday.

People are advised to avoid vigorous outdoor activity, and children, older adults and those with respiratory or heart disease should remain indoors. Residents also are being asked to keep their windows and doors closed or seek alternative shelter.

The fast-growing Sand fire, which originated on the eastern edge of the Santa Clarita Valley next to the 14 Freeway at Soledad Canyon Road, spread southeast into the northern flanks of the Angeles National Forest, a terrain of steep arroyos and dry chaparral.

With late Friday afternoon temperatures peaking near 110 degrees in parts of the Santa Clarita Valley, the fire raced up the remote hillsides, intensifying and spreading.

“It’s super-hot out there,” said Gustavo Medina, an inspector with the county fire department.

Sources: OpenStreetMap, Mapbox

By late afternoon Friday, Metrolink had stopped its trains running between the Antelope and the San Fernando valleys. The California Highway Patrol had partially closed north- and southbound lanes of the freeway for about an hour, and by twilight, the plume of smoke had drifted across the Los Angeles basin into Orange County, with ash falling as far east as Pasadena.

According to Los Angeles County Fire Department, about 100 people had left the area of the fire for an evacuation center at Golden Valley High School about five miles to the west. No injuries had been reported. Additional centers had been established for horses and other animals.

By early evening, the arrival of fire engines with off-road capabilities promised to give firefighters better access to the blaze, said county fire inspector Richard Licon, who reported improving conditions as temperatures began dropping.

“We have a lot of aircraft in the air,” Licon said, “and they’re seeing the smoke column going straight up and not spreading.”

Strong updrafts created the pyrocumulous cloud that was visible throughout the region and carried ash high into the upper atmosphere, allowing it to fall far from the fire itself.

The fire came in the midst of a heat wave that promises triple-digit temperatures and red-flag warnings throughout Southern California through Saturday night.

“The vegetation has very little moisture. It’s extremely dry for this time of year,” Smith of the National Weather Service said. According the weather service, temperatures will start dropping Sunday and level out into the mid-90s for the week ahead.

Brush Fire 5500 Acre Burnt