Sand Fire in Santa Clarita scorches 33,000 acres, destroys numerous homes

SANTA CLARITA (KUSI) — A quickly–spreading fire in the Santa Clarita area has consumed more than 33,000 acres, destroyed at least 18 homes and may have claimed a life, authorities said.

Four helicopters and one fixed-wing airplane made water drops overnight in attempt to stop the spread of what has been named the Sand Fire, which is 10 percent contained as of Monday.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office will attempt to make a positive identification on the badly burned body of a man found at 7:20 p.m. Saturday in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road.

Homicide investigators saw the car in which the body was found parked in the driveway of a house, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez. The cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

More than 1,600 firefighters continued to battle the heat and the flames into the night. Resources devoted to the firefighting effort included 70 engines, 36 hand crews, and, during the daylight hours, nine helicopters and four bulldozers, according to authorities.

Officials continued to urge residents affected by the blaze to heed mandatory evacuation orders for their own safety.
   The newest evacuations were ordered Sunday in Acton as the fire spread

Mandatory evacuations were issued in the following areas as of Monday, per Los Angeles Fire website:

  • East of the 14 Freeway from Golden Valley Road to Sand Canyon Road, excluding the Sand Canyon Mobile Home Park (residents to evacuate; commercial businesses to shelter in place)
  • East side of Via Princessa from Lost Canyon Road to end of Via Princessa and all streets east.
  • Lost Canyon Road from Via Princessa to the Santa Clara River, and all streets to the east.
  • Sierra Highway @ Shady Lane to Sierra Hwy at the 14.
  • Escondido at the 14 to Sierra Hwy at the 14.
  • Agua Dulce Canyon Road north to the 14 Freeway.
  • Crown Valley Road north to the 14 Freeway
  • Soledad Canyon Road between Agua Dulce & Crown Valley.
    All residents in Sand Canyon from Lost Canyon to Bear Divide / All residents in Placerita Canyon from the Nature Center to Sand Canyon / Little Tujunga from Bear Divide to LA River Ranger District (Station), 12371 Little Tujunga Cyn Rd.

Evacuation centers

  • Highland High School at 39055 25th Street West in Palmdale
  • Hart High School at 24825 Newhall Ave. in Santa Clarita
  • Lakeview Terrace Recreation Center at 11075 Foothill Drive in Sylmar.

Large animal evacuation centers:

  • Pierce College in Woodland Hills and — CAPACITY
  • Hansen Dam recreation area — CAPACITY 
  • Antelope Valley Fairgrounds located at 2551 W. Avenue H in Lancaster.

 “This is a very serious fire and when we tell people to evacuate, they need to evacuate,” County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said.

“We have one fatality and 18 homes already destroyed — one partially. So, again, all the orders that have remained relative to road closure and evacuations, please listen to the fire department, listen to the sheriff’s department,” Antonovich said. “We want to save lives, we want to protect property. We want to save the animals. We don’t want to lose any more lives.”

More than 1,500 homes were threatened by the massive blaze, according to a United States Forest Service spokesman and the sheriff’s department.

Capt. Roosevelt Johnson of the sheriff’s Santa Clarita station said that at least 140 deputies in Santa Clarita Valley were working on protecting the evacuation areas.

“When we evacuate those areas, it’s really important that people don’t try and re-enter those areas,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to make sure that human life is protected at all costs.

The blaze was fueled by triple-digit temperatures along with gusty winds and extremely dry vegetation, firefighters said. Residents have reported smoke filled air and falling ash in many parts of the greater Los Angeles area, with smoke advisories issued in the area through midnight Monday.

The fire broke out at 2:11 p.m. Friday, near Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita, along the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway. The cause is still under investigation.

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