Los Angeles

Santa Clarita Wildfire Containment Up to 75 Percent

The fire scorched a hillside near the 14 Freeway, sending smoke over the area north of Los Angeles

Firefighters have increased containment of an 800-acre brush fire north of Los Angeles entering the third consecutive day of the firefight.

The fire in Santa Clarita was about 75 percent contained as of midnight, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. It was started Sunday by a crash on the southbound 14 Freeway near the Sierra Highway off-ramp.

The crash caused a tree to catch fire, and those flames spread toward Disney Ranch, a soundstage and film production complex. The blaze caused a power outage at Disney Ranch, cutting electricity to 76 nearby homes. 

One structure was destroyed.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, one of them heat-related. As of Sunday night , most of the firefighters who made the initial attack were released and replaced by fresh crews to continue the battle into the morning, according to county fire officials. About 460 firefighters were on scene Monday from various agencies, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service. 

The fire broke out during one of the warmest days of the year in Southern California.

At times, four water-dropping helicopters and two fixed-winged aircraft were involved in the firefighting effort.

The blaze also prompted the California Highway Patrol to shut down the Antelope Valley Freeway southbound at San Canyon Road and northward at Newhall Avenue for nearly three hours in the afternoon Sunday.

CAL FIRE reported more than 2,135 fires in California from Jan. 1 through Sunday. Those fires scorched more than 20,200 acres. During that same period last year, CAL FIRE reported 1,750 fires that burned 18,354 acres.

A report released June 1 provided a wildfire outlook for the hot, dry summer months in California. The National Interagency Fire Center report said wildfire risk will be high in inland Southern California in July and in parts of Northern California during August and September. The report noted what could be a delayed start to the wildfire season in some locations.

The state is coming off one of its wettest winters in years, which left hillsides covered in grass and other vegetation. That grass will dry out this summer and turn into tinder, providing fuel for rapidly spreading fires often pushed by strong winds.

An increase in the number of dead and dying trees also can exacerbate the wildfire threat, CAL FIRE officials said. An estimated 102 million trees have died in California due to the state's five-year dry spell and bark beetle infestation.

The agency has been urging residents to take prevention steps now, such as maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around homes and other structures. Defensible space provides a natural buffer between buildings and grass, trees, bushes, shrubs and other vegetation that can burn.

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