CANYON COUNTRY (CNS) - A wind-driven wildfire raced through Canyon Country today, quickly scorching hundreds of acres, destroying an unknown number of structures and threatening more, prompting evacuations of thousands of residents.
The fire was reported early Thursday afternoon near the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, earning it the moniker Tick Fire, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Initially reported at 200 acres, the blaze rapidly grew to more than 850 acres in less than an hour. By early evening, the fire had scorched more than 5,000 acres. Multiple structures could be seen burning to the ground as the wind carried flames ahead of the main blaze.
Evacuation orders were issued for all residents north of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, east of Whites/Plum Canyon roads, south of Vasquez Canyon Road and west of Agua Dolce. Evacuations were ordered south of the 14 Freeway east of Sand Canyon, north of Placerita Canyon and west of Robinson Ranch Golf Course. The orders were affecting an estimated 40,000 residents, according to county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area.
Evacuation centers were set up at College of the Canyons in Valencia, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, and at the Newhall Community Center, 22421 Market St.
College of the Canyons canceled all classes at its Valencia and Canyon Country campuses Thursday, and announced the campuses would remain closed Friday.
An evacuation center for large animals was established at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave. in Woodland Hills. Small animals were being handled at the Castaic Animal Care Center, 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road, sheriff's officials said.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
National Weather Service forecasters said winds were gusting at 45 to 55 mph in the area of the fire.
Meanwhile, another brush fire erupted several miles to the west along the Golden State (5) Freeway in the Lake Hughes area. That fire scored about five to seven acres and burned through the roof of at least one home.
Barger wrote on her Twitter page late Thursday afternoon that six homes had been lost in the Castaic area as a result of the blazes, but more homes could be seen burning Thursday evening in aerial TV news footage.
While crews were battling those two blazes, a third fire broke out in the Del Valle area west of the 5 Freeway. According to county fire officials, that blaze damaged a vehicle and a mobile home, along with about one acre of brush.
The series of fires erupted amid red flag conditions prompted by Santa Ana winds and single-digit humidity. The red flag warning is scheduled to remain in place until Friday night.