July 25, 2016 – Officials said on Sunday that a wildfire in northern part of Los Angeles burning at least 20,000 acres had destroyed 18 houses.
Evacuation orders remained in place for more than 1,500 houses after the blaze ballooned to 22,000 acres on Sunday afternoon from nearly 11,000 acres on Saturday.
According to Los Angeles County Fire Department, the orders for mandatory evacuation were prompted by what they call Sand Fire burning in areas near Santa Clarita, specifically the Angeles National Forest. Earlier, mandatory evacuation orders affected around 300 houses.
Authorities discovered a burned body on Saturday evening outside a house on Santa Clarita’s Iron Canyon Road, just north of Los Angeles.
According to Lt. Rob Hahnlein of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, detectives were already trying to determine whether that certain individual was killed by the blaze or maybe another cause as the house also may have burned.
The blaze broke out at around 2:00pm local time (5:00pm ET) on Friday and swelled to 11,000 acres by Saturday noon. The fire was 10% contained on Sunday, and nearly one thousand seven hundred firefighters were battling it.
Chris Freeman, one resident near the area who fled his home, said one wind shift the whole place could be gone in just half an hour.
The flames and smoke were seen for miles around the area. Ash fell on beaches in Malibu and cars in Pasadena. The smoke from the Sand Fire created unhealthy air conditions in most parts of the Los Angeles area, prompting warnings from health officials. The area of Santa Clarita is about 35 miles away from downtown Los Angeles.
According to Chief Daryl Osby of Los Angeles Fire Department, the typical temperatures and fire weather this year this summer are viewed to be much higher than normal so it is important that all citizens should recognize that.
He said the fire started by the 14 freeway and the cause is yet under investigation noting 90% of wildfires are caused by humans.
California is in its 5th years of a historic drought, making dry vegetation that is especially susceptible to catching fire. Osby said high temperatures and windy conditions in Southern California were not helping and some fields haven’t burned for decades.