Many residents are being allowed back into their home after the Tick Fire prompted what one official called the largest evacuation in the Santa Clarita Valley’s history.
The few areas that remain closed off “will be evaluated throughout the day to determine when repopulation is safe,” Los Angeles County Fire Department officials announced at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Firefighters have faced difficult weather conditions as they fight to draw containment lines around the fire, which has burned roughly 4,615 acres and was 25% contained as of 7 a.m. Saturday. Nine structures have been destroyed and nine others damaged, according to fire officials.
At the #TickFire this AM and I’ve had three different firefighters in the field tell me that it’s mostly mop up. They’ll station people nearby to tackle hotspots as they pop up as winds increase. pic.twitter.com/nHSfd0ucQK
— Jacob Margolis (@JacobMargolis) October 26, 2019
The fire, named for Tick Canyon Road where it sparked, initially displaced about 50,000 residents, authorities reported.
“This is the largest evacuation that we’ve had in Santa Clarita,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Friday.
Barger warned residents returning to their homes that hazards can still exist, from damaged utilities to hazardous materials to fire ash. She urged residents to use gloves and wear eye protection and N95 masks.
Anyone returning to damaged or destroyed homes can dial 211 to be connected to someone who can help coordinate recovery services, Barger said.
Barger and other officials also urged residents to heed instructions from sheriff’s deputies.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said a strong deputy presence would continue in both the evacuated and repopulated areas to deter anyone seeking to take advantage of residents’ absence. Only residents would be allowed entry to repopulated areas.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in L.A. County Friday morning, a move aimed to free up state resources to help local agencies battle the fire and assist in recovery efforts.
The fire presents specific challenges because of its location.
“One of the differences we’re seeing in this fire is, because it impacted that urban interface, there’s a lot of fire line, so that length of fire line requires more work to go out into the black areas, into the burn areas and extinguish all those,” said Garrett Hazelton, a fire behavior analyst for L.A. County Fire Department. “It takes a couple days to fully vet and put out all those little ember-producing hot spots.”
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- Acres burned: 4,615
- Containment: 25%
- Injuries: None reported
- Structures destroyed: 9
- Structures damaged: 9
- Structures threatened: Approximately 10,000
- Resources deployed: About 1,325 personnel, with 225 engines,4 hand crews and four helicopters
The Tick Fire was among several that broke out in California on Thursday, with dry, hot conditions and strong Santa Ana winds rippling through Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
A fire weather watch has been issued through parts of L.A. and Ventura Counties through Monday.
Repopulation has begun for some areas that were forced to leave, but evacuation orders are still in effect for the following areas, as of 8 a.m. Saturday, according to authorities:
- Baker Canyon Road from Sierra Highway, north to Vasquez Canyon Road to 15142 Sierra Highway
- Tick Canyon Road from Abelia Road to Summit Knoll Road
- Small Animals: Castaic Animal Care Center, 31044 Charlie Cyn Rd., Castaic, 91384
- Large Animals: Wayside, 29230 The Old Road, Castaic, 91384
- Large Animals: Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 West Avenue H, Lancaster, 93536
Large Animals: Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, 91371 (CLOSED)
- Baker Canyon and Tick Canyon roads
- All other road closures were lifted by 6 a.m. Saturday, according to L.A. County fire officials
- All schools in the William S. Hart Unified High School District were closed Friday, according to the district. All teachers and staff were being told not to report to work.
- Friday’s varsity Foothill League high school football games were all postponed until Saturday at 7:00 p.m. J.V. games have been rescheduled for Monday.
- The three schools in the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District
- College of the Canyons’ two campuses
- California Institute of the Arts
- All LAUSD schools in the San Fernando Valley are closed Friday. Details here.
Several L.A. County recreational areas were also closed due to the fire, county officials said:
- Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center
- Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center
- Castaic Aquatic Center
- William S. Hart Park
A South Coast Air Quality Management District smoke advisory was extended through at least Saturday morning. Air quality reached unhealthy levels in Santa Clarita Thursday and was expected to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups into Friday and Saturday throughout the region, according to the AQMD.
The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District issued an alert of its own, warning of impacts throughout Ventura County. That alert remains in effect through 6 p.m. Sunday.
The fire broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. in a rural area along the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, which is not a public-maintained road. It runs from the Stone Crest tract of homes along Soledad Canyon in the Santa Clarita community of Canyon Country to along some ranches and small residential enclaves along Tick Canyon Road.
To the north is Agua Dulce. This area where the fire started appears to be part of an outage area where Edison pulled the plug — one of its public safety power shutoffs. It’s unclear the timing of the shutoff compared to the start of the Tick Canyon Fire.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS
Reporter Jacob Margolis is reporting from the area. Digital producer Ryan Fonseca is keeping this story updated. KPCC newscast producers are also working from the studio to confirm details.
For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:
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UPDATES: This article will be updated frequently throughout the day.