With most evacuated residents now back home, fire crews were working at the end of the week to extend their slow progress against the deadly Sand Fire, which has charred more than 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area and is 65 percent contained.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters were on the lines working to knock down the blaze, which broke out Friday afternoon near Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita along the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway. Relative humidity in the area was 30 to 35 percent overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
As of today, the fire had scorched 38,346 acres and was 65 percent contained, fire officials said. Eighteen homes were destroyed, along with a western town set on the Sable Ranch, a well-known filming location; one structure was damaged; two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the flames, and one man was killed after apparently refusing an order to evacuate.
An estimated 20,000 people were evacuated as the fire raged, but most evacuation orders were lifted at 7 p.m. Monday. The orders remain in effect for residents of Little Tujunga Road from the Wildlife Waystation to Sand Canyon Road and Placerita Canyon Road, according to officials at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The Escondido and Soledad Canyon Road exits of the northbound Antelope Valley Freeway remained closed late Thursday.
Sand Canyon Road was closed south of Placerita Canyon Road. Agua Dulce Canyon Road was closed to all nonresidents at the 14 Freeway, and closed to everyone at Soledad Canyon Road. Little Tujunga Canyon Road was closed north of the Wildlife Waystation. In Acton, Soledad Canyon Road was closed at Bootlegger Road.
The public can follow the latest announcements about the fire online at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4878/.
Metrolink announced a return of full service on the Antelope Valley line. Fire conditions adjacent to the railroad tracks in Santa Clarita had prompted the agency to suspend service.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory until early Friday morning in portions of the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains. Air quality could reach unhealthy levels in areas where there’s smoke, the agency said. Residents in those areas are advised to stay indoors and avoid using swamp coolers or wood-burning appliances.
Sheriff’s officials, meanwhile, warned people not to fly drones in the fire zone, noting drone incursions occurred over the weekend, interrupting aerial firefighting efforts.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby this week told the county Board of Supervisors that crews are still seeing “erratic fire behavior” amid stiff winds, but he said the vegetation fueling the fire was lighter as the blaze moved toward the Agua Dulce area, making it easier for crews to extend containment lines.
The coroner’s office Tuesday identified a man who apparently refused orders to evacuate and whose burned body was found in a car in the driveway of a house in the burn area. The body of Robert Bresnick, 67, was discovered at 7:20 p.m. Saturday in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.