Creek Fire 20 Percent Contained, Over 15,000 Acres Burned

 SYLMAR (CNS) - The Creek Fire burning in the hills above Sylmar is 20 percent contained today as firefighters prepare to struggle against it for a fourth day.

Tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate because of the wind- driven fire, which broke at 3:42 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Gold Creek and Little Tujunga roads in the Kagel Canyon area, were allowed to return home Thursday night.

The fire has destroyed five homes and 10 outbuildings, damaged another eight homes and seven outbuildings and scorched 15,323 acres, according to Cal Fire. Almost 1,700 firefighters and other personnel were deployed Thursday against the blaze.

Red-flag parking restrictions will be lifted at 8 a.m. today.

Evacuation orders were lifted late Thursday afternoon for most of the Creek Fire-affected area, with the exception of parts of the Shadow Hills and Riverwood neighborhoods, as well as the Limekiln Canyon area.

Three firefighters suffered what were considered to be minor injuries Tuesday.

Virginia Padilla, whose family owns a ranch in Sylmar, told reporters the fire killed at least 30 of the ranch's horses.

Padilla said she and her family were able to get out of her home just in time Tuesday morning but were not able to take their horses with them.

Evacuation orders first issued Tuesday affected about 150,000 households citywide, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who said ``thousands upon thousands of homes'' had been protected over the past few days.

``Obviously, this is a fire that is burning much less intensely,'' Garcetti said Thursday afternoon, while warning that conditions remain unpredictable with strong winds expected through the weekend.

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on L.A.'s Westside -- a total of 265 district schools and charter schools -- were closed Thursday and will remain shuttered today. A full list of closed schools is available at lausd.net.

To assist families affected by the closures, the LAUSD planned set up special centers between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. today and Saturday, with meals will be available for students, at:

-- Byrd Middle School, 8501 Arleta Ave. in Sun Valley;

-- Reseda High School, 18230 Kittridge St. in Reseda; and

-- Palms Middle School, 10860 Woodbine St. in Palms.

Classes were canceled at Cal State Northridge because high winds and smoke in the San Fernando Valley has affected air quality and traffic conditions around the campus. Classes were to resume today.

An estimated 2,500 structures were threatened by the Creek Fire at one point, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was fighting the blaze in a unified command with the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

As the fire burned on Tuesday, the Foothill (210) Freeway was closed in both directions between the Golden State (5) Freeway and the Glendale (2) Freeway, but it was reopened by Wednesday afternoon, though some freeway ramps remained closed, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Only the Osborne Street on- and off-ramps remained closed Thursday night, the CHP reported.

Photo: Getty Images

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