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Wildfire Threat Diminishes After Days of Flames and Smoke in Southern California

Calm winds and unyielding efforts from firefighters have allowed evacuations to be lifted as containment increases around Southern California's wildfires

What to Know

  • Three people have died in the October wildfires, sparked at one of the most dangerous times of the year
  • Two people were killed in a mobile home park fire in northern Riverside County
  • All evacuation order are lifted in the Saddleridge Fire in the northern San Fernando Valley

Firefighters in Los Angeles and Riverside counties increased containment lines around wildfires that broke out during volatile windy and dry conditions in Southern California.

Three people have died in the wildfires, sparked at one of the most dangerous times of the year for fires in California. Some evacuated residents, many who spent anxious hours in shelters, were allowed to return home as authorities deemed neighborhoods safe.

Below, updates on three fires burning in Southern California.

Note: All figures current as of Sunday night.

Flames from the Saddleridge Fire forced firefighters to retreat and take shelter. Christine Kim reported for NBC4 News at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.

The Saddleridge Fire

  • Location: Northern San Fernando Valley
  • Size: 7,965 Acres
  • Containment: 42 percent
  • Evacuations: All evacuation orders were lifted Saturday evening.
  • Fatalities: 1
  • Injuries: 3
  • Structures Burned: 40 structures damaged or destroyed

The Saddleridge fire began near the 210 Freeway Thursday night in the Sylmar area and was fanned by strong winds into the Granada Hills and Porter Ranch areas. One resident died, suffering a heart attack as the fire burned in his neighborhood north of Los Angeles.


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Santa Ana winds that whipped flames earlier have died down, allowing firefighters to gain ground. Calm conditions are in Sunday's forecast, but the LAFD said shifting winds could create challenges as firefighters try to hold containment lines.

At one point, about 100,000 and 20,000 homes were affected by evacuation orders. All evacuations were lifted Saturday evening.

Air quality is poor as smoke from the fire settles over much of greater Los Angeles.

A cause has not been determined. 

The Saddleridge Fire resulted in tens of thousands of people being evacuated. Kim Tobin reported on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.

Sandalwood Fire

  • Location: Northern Riverside County
  • Size: 1,000 Acres
  • Containment: 77 percent
  • Evacuations: Active
  • Fatalities: 2
  • Structures Burned: 74 structures destroyed

Full containment of the Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa is in sight after improved weather conditions east of Los Angeles. The fire started Thursday after a trash truck dumped its fiery load near a mobie home park. It quickly spread to residences, leaving two people dead and destoying 74 buildings.

Evacuation orders remain inplace for the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home park, where two bodies were found in the aftermath. One of the victims has been identified as 89-year-old Lois Arvikson. Her son Don Turner had said his mother called him to say she was evacuating, but he never heard from her again. Authorities are working to identify the other victim, whose remains were found in one of the homes.

"We're trying to determine whether there's criminal culpability," Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said. "We're investigating to see if we need any type of criminal charges."

A trash truck is believed to be the cause of a destructive fire that ripped through a mobile home community, killing one and leaving two unaccounted for Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. These images show the moments before the driver dumped a fiery load from the truck into dry brush, which likely started the blaze.

Reche Fire

  • Location: Moreno Valley
  • Size: 350 acres
  • Containment: 100 percent
  • Evacuations: None
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Structures Burned: 1 structure destroyed

The non-injury Reche Fire was reported at 12:55 p.m. Thursday on Reche Canyon Road near Reche Vista Drive in the Moreno Valley area. It started with a trailer fire that jumped into surrounding vegetation, propelled by intense Santa Ana winds.

The flames Thursday pushed west into rugged terrain, leading to mandatory evacuations. Evacuation orders were lifted at 9 p.m. Thursday.

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Santa Ana winds, produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California's mountain ranges, are common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.

Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the state's 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October -- many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts. 

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