The largest fire in Los Angeles history continued to rage Saturday in the mountains between the 210 and 5 freeways, ballooning to more than 5,800 acres as Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a local state of emergency.
Random shifts in wind, coupled with triple-digit heat and low humidity, have made it especially difficult to predict the La Tuna fire, which erupted Friday afternoon near Sunland-Tujunga, jumped the 210 Freeway and quickly moved west over the Verdugo Mountains to threaten Burbank, officials said.
Garcetti said the fire’s huge scope was expected to grow but that a strong ring of fire personnel was in position to halt it.
“If things continue the way they are, despite the growth of this fire, I want to assure people that what we see on the ground is a fire we can contain,” the mayor said from a command post Saturday afternoon.
Garcetti’s declaration of a local state of emergency directs relevant departments to take all steps to protect life and property in the area of the fire. It also requests that Gov. Jerry Brown declare an emergency so that state and federal assistance can be provided.
At dusk Saturday, the blaze was 10 percent contained and continued to menace homes in Burbank and Glendale.
“Our biggest concern is the wind and weather,” said L.A. Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas. “If there’s no wind, this is a relatively easy fire to put out.”
One home at Verdugo Crestline Drive and Alene Drive in Tujunga has been destroyed, as well as two other structures in the Tujunga area, officials said.
No injuries to civilians or firefighters have been reported.
Around 500 firefighters were battling the blaze, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. Roughly 260 of those were from the LAFD, she said. Los Angeles County, Angeles National Forest, Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank fire departments also sent units to help with the air and ground fire attack and structure protection.
Firefighters used night-vision goggles to make overnight water drops on the blaze, Stewart said.
Also, local firefighters were expected to return from Texas soon, where they’ve been helping Hurricane Harvey survivors.
Officials had requested four air tankers from the state to join resources already working on the La Tuna fire.
Terrazas commended the work of the firefighters from numerous departments battling the blaze.
“I think it’s an amazing feat to not have lost a life,” he said.
Three hundred homes had been evacuated in Burbank, officials, said, 180 in L.A. and some additional homes in Glendale. Officials continued to urge residents in the fire area to be ready to evacuate if the call comes, and to take their pets with them.
Authorities called for mandatory evacuations at 10:30 p.m. Friday for the Brace Canyon Park area of Burbank when the fire jumped the ridgeline. On Saturday morning, flame had crawled within a few hundred yards of homes.
Burbank police directed evacuees to McCambridge Park at 1515 Glenoaks Blvd. in Burbank, and in Los Angeles an additional evacuation shelter was established at Sunland Recreation Center at 8651 Foothill Blvd.
The city of Glendale opened an evacuation center at the Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, and another evacuation center was established at Crescenta Valley High School, 2900 Community Ave. in La Crescenta, officials said.
“The air quality is bad,” said Burbank police Sgt. Derek Green said late Saturday. “With temperatures expected to reach the triple digits again today, we are asking people to please stay indoors and limit your recreational activities. Keep pets indoors and take care of each other.”
The fire prompted the shutdown of the 210 Freeway eastbound at the 118 Freeway and westbound at the 2 Freeway. Fire engulfed the Sunland Boulevard on-ramp to the eastbound 210 Freeway, Caltrans officials said.
Transition roads were also closed from the eastbound 118 Freeway to the eastbound 210 Freeway, the northbound 2 Freeway to the westbound 210 Freeway, the northbound 2 Freeway at the 134 Freeway and the eastbound and westbound 134 Freeway to the northbound 2 Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The blaze broke out at 1:25 p.m. Friday near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, just south of the 210 Freeway.
About a half-acre of medium brush was on fire when the first crews arrived Friday afternoon. Wind-blown embers sparked a spot fire on the north side of the freeway and by 4 p.m., firefighters were battling flames on both sides of the freeway as the fire raced up a hillside of the Verdugo Mountains in the direction of Burbank.