5,000-acre La Tuna fire largest in Los Angeles city history

Photo Courtesy Burbank Police/Twitter

Sept. 2 (UPI) — A massive brush fire in California erupted to 5,000 acres on Saturday, threatening homes in the area.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed the blaze, known as the La Tuna fire, is the largest fire by acreage in the city’s history.

He also said the fire had burned at least one home in the Burbank area, but no injuries have been reported.

Officials issued mandatory and voluntary evacuations for a total of 730 homes — including 300 in Burbank, 250 in Glendale and 180 in Los Angeles, CBS Los Angeles reported.

“Our priority is saving people, saving property,” Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

Evacuations began early Saturday morning, as police went door to door to alert residents of about 200 homes affected by the evacuation order, the Los Angeles Times reported, and evacuation centers were established in Sunland and Burbank.

Firefighters said erratic fire behavior caused by strong, gusting winds made it difficult to predict what areas may be at risk.

“It’s not the typical nighttime fire behavior,” LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said. “We’re using every resource we have.”

Known as the La Tuna fire, the blaze started for unknown reasons at about 1:25 p.m. and covered about a half-acre of medium brush when fire crews initially arrived at the scene near La Tuna Canyon Road, KNBC reported.

A wind shift at around 2 p.m. caused embers to blow across I-210, igniting dry brush that resulted in another fire.

The “topography-driven” flames spread to about 500 acres at 5 p.m. before quadrupling in size at 9:30 p.m.

Firefighters donned night vision goggles as they performed overnight water drops to “to take the heat out of the head of the fire.”

Temperatures in the area had reached as high as 106 degrees on Friday, accompanied by 50 mph gusts of wind, according to Carol Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“It just really stokes the fire,” Smith said. “I mean, when it’s hot and the gusty winds, it’s been a bad mix of different things.”

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