Tick Fire Crews Brace for New Santa Ana Winds

The Tick Fire Burns In Canyon Country, California

CANYON COUNTRY (CNS) - More than 500 firefighters remained on the scene of the Tick Fire in Canyon Country today, watching for any hot spots that could rekindle due to the Santa Ana winds that have much of southern California under a red flag warning, authorities said.

The fire, which started at 1:24 p.m. Thursday, was 70% contained as of 7 p.m. Sunday. Its size remained at 4,615 acres, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.

The latest damage assessments found 29 structures destroyed, including 24 residences, one commercial/residential structure and four outbuildings. A total of 42 structures were damaged by the flames, including 36 residences, two commercial/residential structures and four outbuildings, officials said.

The 509 firefighters remaining on the scene were putting out hot spots and continued to clear containment lines of vegetation around the burn area to prepare for new Santa Ana winds.

A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service to denote a high risk of wildfires as a result of high winds and low humidity was in effect in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 tonight. Along the L.A. County Coast, in the San Gabriel Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains, it went into effect at 10 p.m. Sunday and was due to expire at 6 tonight.

Wind-prone areas were forecast to have gusts between 40-50 mph, with isolated gusts of 60 mph, the National Weather Service said. Forecasters warned of “potential for very rapid fire spread, long range spotting and extreme fire behavior with any new fire ignitions.”

As of about 1 p.m. Sunday, electricity had been restored to nearly of the nearly 8,400 Southern California Edison customers in Los Angeles County who faced Friday outages under the utility's “Public Safety Power Shutoff” program. Edison said 211 were still without power.

Nearly 105,000 Los Angeles County customers were considered for upcoming outages, according to an update on the utility's website. More than 302,000 customers in the entire SCE service area -- which ranges from Riverside County up through parts of Fresno, Madera and Mono counties -- are on that list.

The program targets areas where weather conditions “may create the potential for elevated fire risk,” SCE reported. More information is available at www.sce.com/safety/wildfire/psps.

Caltrans issued a Saturday statement reminding motorists that they should treat traffic signals as stop signs when the power is off and treat every entrance to an intersection as if it had a stop sign.

College of the Canyons announced its Valencia campus would be open for normal operation. The college said its Canyon Country campus remained closed but students will be notified by instructors if their class will be relocated to the Valencia campus.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries during the course of the blaze.

The Tick Fire Burns In Canyon Country, California

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday in response to fires across the state, freeing up state resources to assist in the firefighting effort. County Board of Supervisors chair Janice Hahn issued a local emergency declaration Friday.

“We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” Newsom said.

Newsom has met with first responders, health officials and residents in Los Angeles and elsewhere this week, and held public briefings about the need to hold utilities accountable for decisions to shut down power.

All road closures and mandatory evacuations were lifted as of Sunday at 6 p.m.

Residents were urged to avoid Bouquet Canyon Road because sheriff's deputies and firefighters were using it as a primary staging area.

The last evacuation center at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia, was closed as of midday Sunday. The Local Assistance Center at the City of Santa Clarita Activities Center was scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Wednesday through Monday, November 4.

The Castaic Animal Care Center at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road in Castaic was no longer receiving evacuated animals as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

The blaze began Thursday 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, it rapidly grew to more than 850 acres in less than an hour, fire officials said.

Investigators were in the early phases of working to determine the cause of the blaze.

“We're in the preliminary phases of cause investigation,” Los Angeles Fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda told City News Service on Sunday.

Imbrenda declined to offer additional details, saying no determination had yet been made about the likely source of the fire.

About 11:30 a.m. Saturday, a public works employee “stumbled across” human remains around Sand Canyon Road and Thompson Ranch Drive, said Deputy Morgan Arteaga of the Sheriff's Information Bureau. Sheriff's homicide detectives responded to the scene, she said, but it was believed the skeletal remains had been there about a year, concealed in brush and exposed by the blaze.

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