A chopper drops water on to a brush fire along the coast in Ventura County.
The cause of the Sesnon Fire was an electrical distribution line falling onto dry brush into a drainage area, according to a county fire official.
Inspector Sam Padilla said Wednesday that the source was pinpointed to the small drainage area south of Palo Sola Mountainway and west of Limekiln Canyon Road in unincorporated territory.
The Sesnon Fire was expected to be fully contained on Thursday and was about 20 percent contained, after burning more than 13,000 acres, said Inspector Ron Haralson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The fire started in Porter Ranch and burned into the Simi Valley area of Ventura County.
The fire has completely destroyed 15 homes and damaged six others. Also, 47 outbuildings were destroyed and 41 vehicles were destroyed, he said.
A line of the fire advanced toward a Simi Valley neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, but fire crews used a heavy aerial attack to beat back the flames.
The fire has cost $2.5 million to battle so far.
Residents in Box Canyon, Bell Canyon, Lake Manor, Woolsey Canyon, and Lilac Lane were allowed to return to their homes at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Evacuations were also lifted for those living in the Porter Ranch area north of the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway, east of the Los Angeles County line, west of Reseda Boulevard, and south of the Ronald Reagan Freeway, east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
On Tuesday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency. The mayor's declaration will allow the city of Los Angeles to receive state and federal disaster assistance.
"In declaring a local emergency for the city of Los Angeles, I have made all city resources available to fighting the fires, helping Angelenos with their loss and preparing for state and federal disaster assistance," Villaraigosa said.
The mayor's declaration will be submitted to the Los Angeles City Council for ratification.
The county's declaration, proposed by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Antonovich, also calls for county agencies and financial institutions to assist fire victims, and for the county assessor to develop concessions for property owners such as extending deadlines for upcoming property tax payments.
In addition, the issuance of building permits will be expedited to assist the recovery process, while the county requests that major banks and lending institutions reschedule mortgage payments for victims.
The county will issue emergency housing vouchers for residents with an income below 50 percent of the area median income who lost homes in the Sky Terrace Mobile Home Park in Lopez Canyon.
On Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Residents can get updated information on evacuations, road closures and assistance by calling the LAFD at 800-439-2909 or the L.A. County Fire Department at 323-881-2413.
7:30 a.m. Wednesday Update: After hundreds had come for shelter, only a couple dozen remain at the Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch. Last night around 10 p.m., evacuation orders were lifted for many of those who were told to leave their homes. Wednesday morning, there's hope that more of those orders will be lifted, as well. Dozens of companies have donated food, supplies, even cell phones for evacuees as they sleep in cots set up in the church's sanctuary. Farmer's Insurance Group is set up outside to help those who may need insurance claims assistance, and Denny's provided French toast and sausages for breakfast. One evacuee said, "You can't get this service in a high-end hotel in Vegas."
11:06 a.m. Wednesday Update: Crews say open fire lines are making it difficult to contain the fire.
3:40 p.m. Wednesday Update: Inspector Sam Padilla blames the fire on an electrical distribution line.
10 a.m. Wednesday Update: "Today should be a much better day for firefighters," National Weather Service Curt Kaplan said. "The winds will still continue at about 15 to 25 mph in the morning hours through noon but will taper off in the afternoon hours."
11 a.m. Wednesday Update: Los Angeles County fire Inspector Ron Haralson said all evacuation orders associated with the fire have been lifted.
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