Evacuations lifted as record-setting Tuna Fire continues to burn in Los Angeles
SUN VALLEY (KUSI) — There were no visible flames in the Verdugo Mountains Monday, and firefighters continued to concentrate their efforts on putting out embers and digging fire lines around the 7,003 acres of brush that burned over the Labor Day weekend.
Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond told reporters at a 4 p.m. briefing that there was little change from last night. The briefing included fire chiefs from Burbank, Glendale, an assistant L.A. County fire chief and State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who represents parts of Burbank and the Sunland-Tujunga area.
“We still have 1,061 firefighters manning the lines this afternoon,” Richmond said. “Containment is still at 30 percent. There was 7,003 acres burned. All mandatory evacuation orders in Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank have been lifted. Our evacuation centers in Los Angeles are closed but could re-open if necessary.
“The Foothill (210) Freeway was re-opened with the exception of some on-ramps and off-ramps that remain closed,” Richmond continued.
Eight injuries were reported including four firefighters, three of whom suffered heat-related illnesses and one some slight burns.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Richmond said.
Portatino said he was on the 210 Freeway today and saw some hot spots being put out by firefighters. He also said that law enforcement would temporarily maintain its presence in the neighborhoods affected by the fire to maintain public safety.
Both Richmond and Portatino also emphasized that the weather had changed for the better overnight and the change really helped the fire crews do their work more easily and safely.
Earlier, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas told reporters that hand crews will continue to be out there clearing brush.
“There is no active fire yet,'” Terrazas said. “But that could change with the wind. Fire operations are not over. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Bulldozers were used today to reconstruct fire lines dug in haste when the fire broke out Saturday, he said.
Temperatures only reached the high 80s today in the fire area, with winds at 3 to 10 miles per hour and a relative humidity at 40 to 45 percent.
“Overnight, the weather cooperated and we received some rain. It appears, at least for now, that the fire in the Burbank hillside has laid down significantly. We no longer have any evacuation orders in place in the City of Burbank,” Burbank Police Sgt. Derek Green said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said that most or all of the 1,400 evacuated Los Angeles residents were expected to go home by the end of today.
The Foothill (210) Freeway was reopened Sunday, connecting the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena. Fire trucks remained on freeway lanes next to the fire, however.
Garcetti welcomed a state of emergency declared in Los Angeles County by Gov. Jerry Brown, saying the decision placed the fire at the highest priority and would bring new resources to fighting it.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the scene a state emergency, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told reporters the county would issue its state of emergency Tuesday, after the holiday.
Two firefighters taken to hospitals during the second day of the fire for heat-related illnesses had stable life signs Terrazas said.
A third firefighter was treated for a heat-related illness Sunday, a fourth was treated for burns and a volunteer Community Emergency Response Team member was medically evaluated although the nature of the illness was not released.
Three homes were destroyed and one was damaged by flames, along with some miscellaneous sheds, outhouses and stables, Terrazas said.
“We believe two of three had no brush clearance,” he said. “So I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a minimum — within L.A. city — a minimum of 200 feet brush clearance, that’s brush from your home. If there is no defensive space we cannot protect your house.”
There was also a drone in the area on Sunday that caused “minimal” impact, he said, adding that the object might have been in the air for at least 15 minutes before witnessed reported the sighting. Police were unable to locate a suspect, he said.
“If a drone is the air, we cannot launch or helicopters or fixed wings,” Terrazas said.