Sand Fire now at 33,000 acres; 10,000 homes under evacuation

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 13:32:34-04

Sand Fire flames in the Santa Clarita area have torched more than 33,000 acres by Monday morning, and officials were concerned shifting winds could make matters worse.

The raging fire destroyed 18 structures in its path in the areas of Sand Canyon, Bear Divide and Little Tujunga, and was threatening thousands of others. The destructive blaze has consumed over 51 square miles and was 10 percent contained.

Mandatory evacuations were underway for 10,000 homes, which covers approximately 20,000 residents, and 200 commercial buildings were threatened, according to officials from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.



Speaking at a Monday morning press conference, authorities implored homeowners to heed evacuation orders. Officials said civilians are creating a hazard for firefighters when they wait until the last minute to leave or try to get back to their homes when it is unsafe.

CHP Sgt. Kevin Pack said residents trying to get back to their homes have nearly run over officers and deputies.

L.A. County Board Supervisor Michael Antonovich addressed the topic of superscoopers, which the county leases from Canada after the end of Canada's fire season, which isn't until next month. Antonovich said the supervisor board will take another look at that contract, and L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby added that the use of contract air in this firefight will be re-evaluated.


The structures destroyed by the Sand Fire include five buildings associated with the Bear Divide Ranger Station. Four of those structures were occupied by Forest Service employees, and three of those employees were firefighting personnel. Two were fighting the Sand Fire, and one was battling another fire in the San Diego area, according to Angeles National Forest Fire chief Rob Garcia.

Also Monday, officials expressed concern over weather conditions, saying southwest winds will be at 30 mph by the afternoon, with the possibility of whipping up flames. Fire behavior was expected to be similar to previous days, as fire crews continued to respond to the five-year drought, low humidity and extreme temperatures causing the fire to move quickly.

The Sand Fire has charred an average of 10,000 acres per day, said L.A. County Fire Department Deputy Chief John Tripp. He estimated that approximately 2,000 homes have been saved in the past three days. He said the areas of Sand Canyon and Via Princessa are currently being checked and hoped to repopulate those areas sometime Monday.

Sunday afternoon, the northbound 14 Freeway was shut down from the 5 Freeway to Soledad Canyon, and southbound lanes were closed from the I-5 to Avenue M. The CHP announced the 14 Freeway was later reopened. On Monday, officials announced reentry from south of Santiago to Crown Valley between Soledad and the 14 Freeway and west of the 14 Freeway between Escondido and Ward Road.

In addition to the homes burned, the fire has also charred several other structures on the Sable Ranch, a well-known filming location, according to authorities.

A man's body was found burned in a sedan in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road, which is near one of the neighborhoods where a home had burned.

Sheriff's officials said the cause of the man's death has not been determined. They did, however, say there was no indication that the death was a criminal event. The investigation into the death is ongoing, and the identity of the man was not immediately known.

More than 2,900 fire personnel from throughout the state were helping battle the fire, along with 356 engines, 14 dozers, 16 water tenders, 26 helicopters and two firefighter rescue teams. Two firefighters were reported to have suffered minor injuries in the firefight as of Monday morning.

The evacuation areas include:

-Acton homes along Agua Dulce Canyon Road north to the 14 Freeway, Crown Valley north to the 14 Freeway and all of Soledad Canyon and Bootlegger Canyon
-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.