Firefighters are reporting that they possibly have about 75 percent of a 516-acre brush fire in Calabasas, California, contained as water-dropping helicopters and hundreds of firefighters have worked around the clock to extinguish the blaze. The fire in the Los Angeles County has forced thousands of people to flee the area after authorities called for mandatory evacuations.
It has been reported that the wildfire began on Saturday afternoon and has now placed entire neighborhoods at risk of burning to the ground in the prosperous semi-rural enclave that is Calabasas. Authorities have revealed that the Calabasas area has more than a few celebrities calling it home including Jessica Simpson, Toni Braxton, and the Kardashians. The fire has already burned through about 500 acres as 50-foot-high flames have erupted and the ridges and embers made candles out of the trees.
According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the blaze has been dubbed the Old Fire, and containment of it is growing rapidly as it went from 30 percent containment early this Sunday morning to about 75 percent containment as of about 2:15 p.m. NBC Los Angeles, reported that early on, the officials had stated that two homes were damaged by the raging fire, but later clarified that only one actually received any damage and it was because of fire retardant. L.A. County Fire did say a commercial building in Calabasas was lost to the fire though.
The fighting of the fire also caused the injury of three firefighters, two of whom had knee injuries while the other one suffered from a cardiac event.
Firefighters believe that the fire began on Saturday after a car crashed into a power pole and knocked down the electrical lines, creating three different blazes almost immediately. Firefighters worked to quickly end the burning in one area, with the fire in the West Hills, surrounded by developments, brought under control easily.
The other two blazes in Calabasas joined together and raced through drought-dry brush to create the massive blaze fire fighters have been battling ever since. The massive fire started just after 4 p.m. Saturday, and forced the mandatory evacuations of 5,000 people from the Eddingham, Highlands, and Adamsville neighborhoods, with voluntary evacuations in other adjacent areas, fire officials said. Inspector Rich Licon of the L.A. County Fire Department also expressed thanks to residents for the work they do to keep their homes in great condition.
“We’re proud of the people in Calabasas for having good brush clearance [around their homes]. They inhabit a defensible space for us to work with, which has helped us out a lot.”
SCPR wrote that an air quality advisory has been issued by the L.A. County Department of Public Health for the areas of San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, and other surrounding neighborhoods. All persons in areas which contain visible smoke or the obvious odor of smoke are being told to avoid unnecessary exposure to the outdoor and limit any physical exertions (whether indoor or outdoor), such as exercise. The warning is particularly important for people with health conditions like heart disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases. They are being told to stay indoors as much as is possible even if in their area smoke, soot, or ash cannot be detected with the naked eye. Both school and non-school related sports organizations have also been advised to suspend any outside physical activities in these areas as well.
Approximately 400 firefighters continue to fight the blaze and though it is currently 75 percent contained, the fire is actually expected to flare up again. The head of the fire is said to be moving east, towards a steep area of Topanga Canyon, and if it reaches that area, firefighters would have to be airlifted to fight the blaze there.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department has compiled a list of tips for what persons should do if they are confronted with a fire.
[Photo by Richard Vogel/AP Images]