La Tuna Fire explodes to 8,000 acres, largest such blaze in LA history; 10 percent contained

ByJohn Gregory and staff KABC logo
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Homes threatened by 5,000-acre La Tuna Fire
Mandatory evacuation orders remained in place Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, as the 5,000-acre La Tuna Fire continued to burn in the Verdugo Mountains.

SUNLAND-TUJUNGA, LOS ANGELES -- A brush fire exploded to 8,000 acres on Saturday while prompting mandatory evacuations in Burbank, Glendale and Sunland-Tujunga, officials said, noting it was the largest blaze by acreage in Los Angeles city history.

The La Tuna Fire has burned one structure and was 10 percent contained Saturday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. No injuries were reported.

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for the Brace Canyon Park area of Burbank. Those Burbank streets under evacuation orders included Haven Way from Joaquin Drive to the top of the hill, Olney Place, Remy Place, Mystic View, View Crest, Hamline Place and Groton Drive east of Stephen Road.

WATCH: Mayor, LAFD chief provide update on La Tuna Fire

The windswept blaze was burning in heavy hillside brush in the Sun Valley and Sunland-Tujunga areas. It began moving over the hills toward Burbank late Friday night.

Latest evacuation and road closure info for La Tuna Fire

The windswept blaze was burning in heavy hillside brush in the Sun Valley and Sunland-Tujunga areas. It began moving over the hills toward Burbank late Friday night.

Additional evacuation orders were also issued for the neighborhood of Lamer Street from Brace Canyon Road to Keystone Street and the Castleman Estates, Burbank police said.

Firefighters moved into structure defense mode to protect homes as residents were advised to evacuate immediately.

A smoke advisory was issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for the San Gabriel Valley to the San Fernando Valley and Glendale as plumes billowed into the air. Residents were urged to limit outdoor activities.

Firefighters initially feared the flames would reach homes by midnight Friday. But the structure-protection efforts were able to hold off the flames for a time and as of 7 a.m. Saturday no homes had yet been damaged, officials said.

Firefighters took the unusual step of keeping their water-dropping helicopters in the air at night, outfitting crew members with night-vision goggles. Officials said those goggles were purchased with funds donated to an LAFD foundation.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department discusses latest developments on the La Tuna Fire.

An evacuation center was established at the Sunland Recreation Center, 8651 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga. Pets are welcome.

The Red Cross was also sending volunteers late Friday night to open another evacuation center in Burbank at McCambridge Park, 1515 North Glenoaks Blvd.

The 210 Freeway was closed in the area from the 2 to the 118 freeways, and remained closed on Saturday morning, fire officials said.

"Firefighters are battling not only 106-degree temperatures today with low relative humidity, but it's also very steep and rugged terrain," Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said Friday. "Fortunately we have no injuries to firefighters."

In the Sunland-Tujunga area, homes on Reverie Road, Tranquil Drive, Inspiration Way, Hillhaven Avenue and Glen O Peace Parkway north of the 210 Freeway were evacuated as the fire continued to grow.

About 200 homes in that area were evacuated, officials said. Firefighters sent additional resources to that neighborhood for structure protection and to assist with evacuations.

In other nearby neighborhoods, nervous residents packed up essentials but stayed near their homes and watched the flames with a mix of fascination and dread.

"It's actually really scary because we've never had a fire this close to us," said Tujunga resident Jessica Fernstrom.

Residents around the foothills are preparing to evacuate as the La Tuna Fire burns hillsides in Burbank and Sunland-Tujunga.

An evacuation center was established at Verdugo Hills High School, 10625 Plainview Ave, Tujunga.

Burbank police also evacuated DeBell Golf Club.

The blaze was first reported around 1:30 p.m. in Sun Valley. Firefighters initially thought they had a good handle on the blaze. It only burned about a quarter acre of brush as it moved uphill.

"It was actually traveling in a northern direction (and) hopped the freeway, and we were initially worried about the homes on the northern side," said LAFD Capt. Branden Silverman.

"But then we had that storm cell come through. We had a little bit of rain, and that was enough to push the fire in a totally different direction," the captain said. "It started traveling south toward the Burbank city limits."

The fire ignited amid triple-digit heat in the San Fernando Valley. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 101 degrees in Sun Valley on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

In Burbank, additional surface-street closures included Walnut Ave at Sunset Canyon and Harvard Rd at Sunset Canyon.

The flames and smoke did not immediately affect flights out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

More than 500 firefighters from Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena Los Angeles County, Los Angeles city and Angeles National Forest agencies were involved in battling the blaze.

Los Angeles city and county agencies used 10 helicopters and two Super Scoopers to help fight the flames from the air.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

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