Tick Fire 70% Contained, 26 Structures Destroyed, 4,615 Acres Burned

All but one lane of the 14 Freeway was reopened Saturday morning.

More than 900 firefighters continued to battle the Tick Fire in Canyon Country and Santa Clarita today as assessment teams increased to 26 the number of structures destroyed in the blaze.

The fire, which started at 1:24 p.m. Thursday, was 70% contained as of 7 p.m. Sunday. Its size remained at 4,615 acres and 32 structures were found to have been damaged, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.

The 925 firefighters remaining on the scene were putting out hot spots and continuing to clear containment lines of vegetation around the burn area to prepare for a new round of Santa Ana winds forecast for Sunday night into Monday.

A red flag warning for dangerous fire conditions was set for 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Monday for the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and the Los Angeles County mountains, according to the National Weather Service. The agency issued the same advisory for the coastal areas and the San Gabriel Valley from 10 p.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Monday.

As of about 1 p.m. Sunday, electricity had been restored to all of the nearly 8,400 Southern California Edison customers in Los Angeles County who faced Friday outages under the utility's "Public Safety Power Shutoff" program. However, nearly 95,000 Los Angeles County customers were being considered for upcoming outages, according to an update on the utility's website. More than 302,000 customers in the entire SCE service area -- which ranges from Riverside County up through parts of Fresno, Madera and Mono counties -- are on that list.

The program targets areas where weather conditions "may create the potential for elevated fire risk,'' SCE reported. More information is available at www.sce.com/safety/wildfire/psps.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries during the course of the blaze.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday in response to fires across the state, freeing up state resources to assist in the firefighting effort. County Board of Supervisors chair Janice Hahn issued a local emergency declaration Friday.

"We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires," Newsom said.

All road closures were lifted Sunday at 6 a.m. with the exception of Tick Canyon Road between Abelia Road and Summit Knoll Road, the last area remaining under mandatory evacuation.

Three lanes of the southbound Antelope Valley Freeway, including the carpool lane, re-opened at 10:30 p.m. Friday. The right lane and shoulder remained closed from Agua Dulce Canyon to Soledad Canyon roads for about three days for guardrail repair from the fire, the California Highway Patrol said.

The Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road off-ramps will remain closed until further notice, Caltrans said.

Residents were urged to avoid Bouquet Canyon Road because sheriff's deputies and firefighters were using it as a primary staging area.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, all evacuation orders were lifted by fire authorities. The last evacuation center at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia was closed as of midday Sunday.

Evacuations of small animals were being handled at the Castaic Animal Care Center at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road in Castaic; and evacuations of large animals were being handled at Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 West Avenue H, Lancaster; Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills; and the Castaic Animal Care Center.

Newsom has met with first responders, health officials and residents in Los Angeles and elsewhere this week, and held public briefings about the need to hold utilities accountable for decisions to shut down power.

Caltrans issued a Saturday statement reminding motorists that they should treat traffic signals as stop signs when the power is off and treat every entrance to an intersection as if it had a stop sign.

The blaze began near the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, earning it the moniker "Tick Fire," according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Initially reported at 200 acres, it rapidly grew to more than 850 acres in less than an hour, fire officials said.

Investigators were in the early phases of working to determine the cause of the blaze.

"We're in the preliminary phases of cause investigation," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda told City News Service on Sunday.

Imbrenda declined to offer additional details, saying no determination had yet been made about the likely source of the fire.

About 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a public works employee "stumbled across" human remains around Sand Canyon Road and Thompson Ranch Drive, said Deputy Morgan Arteaga of the Sheriff's Information Bureau. Sheriff's homicide detectives responded to the scene, she said, but it was believed the skeletal remains had been there about a year, concealed in brush and exposed by the blaze.

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