Tick Fire Containment Increases to 90% But New Winds Could Test Lines


US-CALIFORNIA-FIRE

CANYON COUNTRY (CNS) - Los Angeles County will open an assistance center today for people affected by the Tick Fire, which has burned 4,615 acres in the Canyon Country/Santa Clarita area and is now 90% contained as crews braced for what could be some of the highest winds of the season.

The center at the Santa Clarita Activities Center, 20880 Centre Point Parkway, will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Monday and will offer information and assistance on topics such as property cleanup/repair, filing insurance claims and replacing records such as driver's licenses or vehicle registrations that were lost during the fire.

The fire, which started at 1:24 p.m. Thursday, was 82% contained as of Monday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The latest damage assessments found 29 structures destroyed -- 23 residences, one commercial/residential structure and five outbuildings. A total of 44 structures were damaged by the flames -- 39 residences, two commercial/residential structures and three outbuildings, officials said.

About 175 firefighters remained on the scene Tuesday night with additional resources available, officials said.

“Firefighters continue to patrol the fire lines, performing spot checks throughout the burned areas to prevent any chance of rekindle with a change in the weather,” according to a fire department statement.

More Santa Ana conditions were forecast to begin Tuesday night into Thursday.

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 p.m. Monday. Along the Los Angeles County coast, the San Gabriel Valley and Santa Monica Mountains, it went into effect at 10 p.m. Sunday.

Wind-prone areas were forecast to have gusts between 50-70 mph, with isolated gusts of 80 mph in the mountains, National Weather Service forecasters said.

“This Santa Ana wind event will likely be the strongest we have seen so far this season,” according to a weather service statement. “These strong winds combined with a long duration of single-digit humidities ... and dry fuels will likely bring very critical fire weather conditions, making this an extreme Red Flag Warning event.”

Southern California Edison is warning that thousands of its customers may have their power shut off as part of the “Public Safety Power Shutoff” program.

US-CALIFORNIA-FIRE

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.

“Until this fire is 100% contained, increasing fire behavior is always a potential risk,” said the county fire department. “In the event of a new ignition, very rapid fire spread, long-range spotting and extreme fire behavior due to record low fuel moisture is possible. Forecast Santa Ana winds have the potential to test containment lines.”

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

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.

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

The last evacuation center at College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia, was closed as of midday Sunday.

The blaze began Thursday near the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road, earning it the moniker “Tick Fire,” according to the 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.

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.

Photos: Getty Images


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