Several wildfires are burning across California sending residents fleeing, as a heat wave brings scorching temperatures up to 25 degrees above average on the west coast.
Los Angeles County’s La Tuna Fire has already consumed more than 5,000 acres of mostly mountainous brush-land, north of the city’s downtown.
The blaze “is the largest fire in the history of L.A. city in terms of its acreage,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a briefing Saturday.
It has prompted the evacuation of 300 homes in Burbank, more than 250 in Glendale and 180 in the city of Los Angeles, said Garcetti.
Around 500 firefighters are battling the fire, which was 10 percent contained around midday Saturday.
L.A. Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said “the biggest factor is the weather and the wind,” when it comes to battling the slow-moving blaze. But he added that the “erratic” winds, which helped spread the fire Friday had subsided by Saturday.
Garcetti said fire officials have “great confidence” they can defeat the fire, “with the exception if winds just pick up and go wild.”
By Saturday, just one home had burned, according to Garcetti.
On Friday, fire officials urged anyone “feeling unsafe in their homes,” to get out, whether or not their location fell under an evacuation order. Terrazas said Saturday that area residents should be prepared, with gassed up cars and important documents and pets at the ready.
The fire is one of 29 raging across California, even as the state has committed “a lot of resources in Houston,” said Garcetti. Terrazas said around 100 California firefighters are currently helping with hurricane relief after Harvey hit Texas last week.
Elsewhere in California, the Ponderosa Fire in Butte County has burned nearly 4,000 acres, destroying more than two dozen homes and spurring evacuations.
A red flag warning for the region is in effect through Saturday, meaning hot and dry conditions, combined with gusty winds, “will result in the potential for rapid fire spread,” according to the NWS.
An excessive heat warning for much of the state remains in effect through Saturday. Temperatures could reach 113 degrees in Southwestern California, according to the National Weather Service.
In a bright spot though, forecasters say by Sunday, “clouds and possible showers should bring significant cooling to most areas.”
Garcetti said Saturday the hope was to bring in more state resources to help get the La Tuna fireunder control, “so we can put those back out on fires that are going to be going for many more days.”