Red Flag Warning Expires, Wind Advisory Through Noon


Saddleridge Fire Scorches 7,500 Acres In LA County, Thousands Evacuated

PORTER RANCH (CNS) - Firefighters working to contain what's left of the Saddleridge Fire in the northern San Fernando Valley are not letting their guard down after a red flag warning concerning high winds forecast over the weekend expired, replaced by a wind advisory for gusts forecast through noon today.

“Tactical patrols will remain in place to monitor the area, as low humidity and gusty northerly winds are still a concern,” said fire officials in an incident update.

The blaze burned nearly 8,800 acres, destroyed 19 structures, damaged 88 more since it erupted the night of Oct. 10 off the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway near Yarnell Street and Saddleridge Road in Sylmar. It was 83% contained as of Sunday evening, the fire department said.

The National Weather Service issued the Wind Advisory for areas including the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area, Santa Clarita Valley, Newhall, Valencia, Woodland Hills, Northridge, Burbank and Universal City, and warned weak Santa Ana winds were forecast through Wednesday. Low humidities and temperatures between 85 and 95 degrees were forecast, leading to likely rapid growth of any new fire starts, forecasters said.

Authorities warned that gusting winds could potentially kick up smoldering embers and ignite new blazes in and around the fire zone, and urged residents to call 911 immediately if they spot any fresh flames.

After it began October 10, the Saddleridge Fire quickly spread due to wind-blown embers that jumped the Golden State (5) Freeway spreading flames into Granada Hills and Porter Ranch. At the height of the fire, an estimated 100,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders, all since lifted.

The cause remained undetermined, but the point of origin was identified by Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators as a 50-foot-by- 70-foot area beneath a Southern California Edison high-voltage transmission tower near Saddleridge Road, officials said.

A Porter Ranch resident, identified by neighbors as 54-year-old Aiman Elsabbagh, died of a heart attack Oct. 11 while trying to protect his home from the fire. LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said the man was speaking to firefighters when he went into cardiac arrest, and later died at a hospital.

Los Angeles Park Ranger Capt. Alberto Torres, 67, also suffered a heart attack Oct. 11 at Ranger Headquarters at the Griffith Park Visitor Center, at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive and died the next morning at a hospital.

Torres -- a ranger for more than 40 years -- had been patrolling the parks impacted by the fire.

Eight firefighters suffered minor injuries, including one with an eye injury, fire officials said.

Photo: Getty Images


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