Los Angeles

Governor Declares a State of Emergency in LA County Due to Destructive Tick Fire

Firefighters worked overnight to protect homes, but flying embers ignited several fires in neighborhoods north of Los Angeles

What to Know

  • More than 40,000 people were under evacuation orders Friday morning
  • The fire destroyed at least six structures north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita area
  • Strong winds are in the forecast for Friday, but gusts will diminish this weekend

Some residents were allowed to return home Friday afternoon after a destructive wildfire north of Los Angeles jumped a major freeway, as strong winds fanned embers and pushed flames into neighborhoods in the Santa Clarita area.

More than 40,000 people were ordered to evacuate and the 14 Freeway was shut down as the fire spread overnight, blocking a major route between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert to the north. Schools were closed during what is expected to be another day of high winds and hot conditions. 

Firefighters were in the Santa Clarita area throughout the night, focusing on hot spots across the burning region. Six structures have burned, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said early Friday.

"It just got so bad with the smoke and the black soot and ash," said evacuee Pam Edwards. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday in Los Angeles County. The designation frees up state resources to assist the battle against the fire. The proclamation also applies to the Kincade Fire burning in Sonoma County.

Evacuations ordered in the more than 4,300-acre fire remained in effect Friday morning. Several homes were burning as embers carried by wind landed on roofs, and ignited the structures. 

"Do not be lulled that you may not see open flames," said LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. "Because there are plenty of hot spots out in the incident, we'll have firefighters out all night trying to work on those hot spots and try to work on increasing our containment line."

Some residents tried to fight the fire with garden hoses. On Sequoia Road in Santa Clarita, firefighters worked through the night to protect houses from embers that were flying from a burning home. As daylight arrived, the home appeared to be the only residence damaged in the area.

In the rural areas, where at least two ranch houses burned, people rushed to rescue dozens of horses, donkeys, goats, a pig and even an emu. The Gentle Barn, an animal protection organization on a farm located at 15825 Sierra Highway, was also being forced to evacuate.

No injuries were reported but fire officials say a firefighting helicopter was struck by a bird and its windshield damage, forcing it out of the fight until Friday.

The Tick Fire, first reported in the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, burned a couple hundred acres before erupting and eating through 3,950 acres within hours. Santa Ana winds were gusting 45-55 mph near the fire, which crossed the 14 Freeway early Friday and left drivers with few options.

"Oh boy, it's been crazy," said Palmdale resident Charles Mills. "I've been out here for a few hours now, stranded to the side. Trying to get to work."

Friday's forecast includes another bout of strong winds, which are notorious for fanning some of the worst wildfires in California history.  Calmer conditions are expected this weekend.

The fire comes as some 80 homes were evacuated overnight in San Bernardino County as a 70-acre blaze forced road closures. A 10,000-acre blaze was also burning in the Bay Area

Utility companies including SoCal Edison preemptively cut power to thousands of homes Thursday in an effort to diminish the threat of wildfires. See all locations here. 

For a list of what to pack in an emergency bag and other fire prevention tips, click here. 

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