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Rye fire in Santa Clarita burns 7,600 acres, 1,300 homes evacuated

Posted on: 12/06/2017 00:00

(dailynews.com) A 7,600-acre wildfire driven by high winds broke out in Santa Clarita Tuesday, threatening at least 1,300 homes and causing more than 2,000 to lose power.

Dubbed the Rye fire, the blaze was reported at 9:33 a.m. near Rye Canyon Loop, according to Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Joey Marron.

Around 2 p.m., the fire jumped the 5 Freeway near state Route 126 and continued moving southwest past Six Flags Magic Mountain, said Kenichi Haskett, a spokesman for county fire. The blaze was 5 percent contained as of 4 p.m.

Around 500 firefighters were on scene. No structures were damaged and no one was injured.

As a result of the Rye fire and the Creek fire that also began Tuesday morning in the Kagel Canyon area above the San Fernando Valley community of Sylmar, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County Tuesday evening. Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura County earlier yesterday as the Thomas fire raged out of control.

In Santa Clarita, mandatory evacuation order were issued for 1,300 homes in the Westridge community, but the evacuation order was lifted as of 6 p.m.

Several schools — West Ranch High School, Rancho Pico Middle School and Oak Hills Elementary School —  the Valencia Travel Village RV park, Castaic and businesses in Rye Canyon Loop were also evacuated, officials said.

The blaze forced the closure of the 5 Freeway in both directions near state Route 126 for several hours. By the early afternoon, the freeway had reopened, according to California Highway Patrol.

The Simi Valley Police Department warned residents that the flames could travel to the area overnight due to strong northeast winds.

“Firefighters are really being challenged by the strong winds,” Haskett said, adding that residents in the surrounding area should be prepared to evacuate.

The Red Cross was assisting students and residents at an evacuations center at the College of the Canyons at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. Another evacuation center has been set up at Valencia High School, 27801 Dickason Drive in Santa Clarita.

While no evacuations had been mandated for Simi Valley Tuesday night, the Simi Valley Police Department said shelters for people and large animals would be announced if evacuations became necessary. Also, schools in the Simi Valley Unified School District will be closed Wednesday.

Santa Clarita city buses were being used in the evacuation effort, according to the sheriff’s department.

The Rye fire also displaced dozens of assisted living residents, some suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, at The Oakmont of Santa Clarita, 28650 Newhall Ranch Road.

The facility was evacuated and its residents were taken to Rio Norte Junior High School at 28771 Rio Norte in Valencia, according to a post on the facility’s website. The message asked family members to call the facility home office at 707-535-3200 for further information.

“There’s a lot of dry fuel burning, and with the winds we don’t know which way it’s going to go,” Marron said. “It’s a very fluid situation.”

The blaze caused more than 2,000 customers, including the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station in Santa Clarita and the California Highway Patrol station in Valencia, to lose power early Tuesday, according to Southern California Edison.

CHP dispatchers said they were running on generators.

Tom Nguyen, an employee at the nearby Malibu Nails Spa on Copper Hill Drive, said his business and others in the retail plaza lost power at about 10:30 a.m.

“We don’t know anything,” he said Tuesday morning. “We just have to wait inside for the power to come back on.”


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