SYLMAR (CNS) - A massive brush fire that started in Sylmar and sent embers flying over the Golden State (5) Freeway into Granada Hills and Porter Ranch exploded in size this morning from 60 acres to 1,600 acres with zero containment, damaged homes in Granada Hills and prompted mandatory evacuations from approximately 1,900 homes in those communities.
The blaze was reported just after 9 p.m. Thursday off the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway near Yarnell Street and Saddle Ridge Road, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. About 12:30 a.m., the size of the fire was updated to 1,600 acres with zero containment, she said.
The fire jumped the Golden State Freeway about 11:20 p.m. Thursday and sparked a fire west of the freeway and west of Balboa Boulevard, she said.
Video from ABC7 showed homes on fire on Jolette Avenue north of Sesnon Boulevard in Granada Hills.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for residents in Granada Hills and Porter Ranch north of Sesnon Boulevard between Balboa Boulevard and the Ventura County border. An evacuation warning was issued for all areas south of Sesnon Boulevard to the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway, Stewart said.
An evacuation order is issued when a mandatory evacuation is anticipated. Residents in this area should be prepared to evacuate immediately, Stewart said.
An email alert from the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council said the flames were burning above Aliso Canyon and residents should prepare to evacuate.
``There is a fire above Aliso Canyon and coming down toward Porter Ranch and Granada Hills,'' the email read. ``Prepare to evacuate ASAP.''
The Granada Hills Recreation Center at 16730 Chatsworth St. was scheduled to open at 2:30 a.m. today for evacuees, Stewart said.
Mandatory evacuations were issued for the Oakridge Estates community north of the Foothill Freeway in Sylmar.
``If you live in north of the (Foothill Freeway) in Sylmar, get your valuables together and leave now,'' Stewart said during an interview with Fox 11.
About 330 juveniles and staff from the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall at 16350 Filbert St. were being evacuated this morning, ABC7 reported.
The Sylmar Recreation Center at 13109 Borden Ave. was opened for residents and small pets. Large animals could be taken to the Hansen Dam Recreation Area at 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace or the West Valley Animal Shelter at 20655 Plummer St. in Chatsworth, Stewart said.
Approximately 1,900 homes were affected in the mandatory evacuation zone, she said.
More than 400 firefighters and eight helicopters from LAFD, Los Angeles County Fire and Angeles National Forest battled the fire and were focused on structural defense and protecting lives and property, Stewart said.
The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power announced at 10:43 p.m. that it had shut off power flow along major transmission lines in the vicinity of the fire to assist with firefighting operations.
There have been no outages as the result of shutting off power flows. Power is being rerouted to customers using other paths away from affected area, according to the department.
About 10:50 p.m., the Los Angeles Police Department issued a citywide tactical alert in response to the fire. It allows the department to keep officers beyond the end of their shifts.
``(We) are working with LAFD to carry out any necessary evacuations,'' the LAPD tweeted. ``If you live in the area of the 210 freeway and Yarnell (Street) in Sylmar, we urge you to be prepared & follow all public safety instructions.''
LAPD Mission Division officers were clearing traffic in Sylmar due to the fire.
``Please steer clear away from the area of westbound Foothill (Boulevard) to Roxford (Street),'' Mission Division tweeted. ``Avoid the 210 freeway as well. Thank you.''
The fires prompted the closure of the northbound Golden State Freeway just south of the Foothill Freeway and the southbound Golden State Freeway at Calgrove Boulevard just after midnight, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Both directions of the Foothill Freeway from the Golden State Freeway to the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway and the northbound Golden State Freeway's truck route in Sylmar were closed due to the fire for an unknown duration, the CHP said
Video showed several trucks on fire at a business in the area. KCAL9 reported the business was Inline Distributing Co. at 14093 Balboa Blvd.