Update on Sayre fire near Sylmar, California

UPDATE @ 8:05 p.m. PT Saturday

Captured from LA Channel 4, below, is a partial list of the homes at the Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park that were saved. Of the 600 units, Channel 4 reported that 124 were saved. Again, our deepest sympathies for those who lost their homes.


The fire has burned 8,000 acres and is 20% contained. Approximately 500 mobile homes and 9 houses have burned. Five people have been arrested for looting. There are no confirmed fatalities, however the coroner has been dispatched to the mobile home park. Not everyone from the park has been accounted for.

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UPDATE @ 4:24 p.m. PT Saturday

The Los Angeles County Coroner has been called to the Oak Ridge mobile home park where hundreds of homes burned this morning. The coroner would not be summoned unless one or more bodies had been discovered. This is no doubt why they declared the park a crime scene. If a person is eventually determined to have started the fire, it is possible they could be charged with murder.

UPDATE @ 3:37 p.m. PT Saturday

Above is an updated map showing heat detected by satellite on the Sayer fire. The red and orange areas are the new fire, with the red areas being the most recently burned. It also shows the fires from last month, the Sesnon and Marek fires. It appears that the new fire, the Sayer fire, has burned into the Sesnon fire. Click on the map to see a larger version.

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UPDATE @ 2:10 p.m. Saturday

According to the LA City FD the size of the Sayre fire is now estimated at 6,500 acres. The winds are 16 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph. The temperature is 90 and the relative humidity is 8%. The fire is still being pushed toward the Sesnon burn area of last month. More information about evacuations is HERE.

UPDATE at 12:10 p.m. Saturday

The Oak Ridge mobile home park where hundreds of homes burned has been recently declared a crime scene, and all media has been asked to leave the area. This may be a coincidence, but previously live video of the park this morning showed no visible smoke in the helicopter video. Then later, approximately three mobile homes were burning in an area where a small number of homes had been untouched by the fire. It makes one wonder if an arsonist ignited those additional homes.

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In our earlier posts here and here, we provided some initial details about the fire as well as a map of the approximate perimeter of the Sayre fire and an evacuation map of the fire. More details are now available.

  • The Oak Ridge Mobile Home Park has 600 spaces for homes. At least two-thirds Approximately 90% of the homes in that park burned between 3 and 5 a.m. this morning as 70 mph winds pushed the fire through the park.
  • Three of the five electrical transmission lines bringing power into the city are now shut down as power lines in the Newhall Pass area have been taken out of service as the fire burns through the area. Rolling blackouts are affecting many comunities. Live video as the fire burned under one of the lines showed electricity arcing from the lines down to the ground through the smoke .
  • The Santa Ana winds are expected to remain until about 2 to 4 p.m. today and temperatures will be around 90. Tomorrow the winds should not be a factor.

Our sympathies are with the hundreds of individuals and families who have lost their homes.

California: map of Sayre fire near Sylmar

(click on the map to see a larger version.)

In our earlier post we have some details about the Sayre fire, including an evacuation map and a thermal imagery map.

Based on the data from the thermal map, and information provided in the press conference, we put together a rough map showing the location of the Sayer fire in relation to the previous Sesnon and Marek fires of last month, which we mapped as they were burning in mid October. Again, the location of the Sayre fire on the map is only approximate.

We will update the map when more data is available.

California: Sayre fire near Sylmar, evacuation map

Photo by Pyromanic975

A new fire started late last night in Los Angeles in the Sylmar area. It is named the Sayer fire, and is burning in the same general area as the Sesnon fire of last month.

Here is a map showing the evacuation area, provided by Los Angeles Fire Department.


View Larger Map

In a press conference that concluded at 8:20 a.m. PT, the following information was provided by the Mayor of Los Angeles and fire officials.

  • The fire has crossed both the 5 and 210 freeways.
  • “Dozens” of structures have burned. An ICS-209 from about 7 a.m. said 65 structures had burned, but that number is likely to increase.
  • The fire has burned 2,600 acres and is spotting 1/4 mile ahead.
  • A major powerline that brings a large percentage of the electricity to the LA area is threatened. The fire is burning under and across it. If the powerline fails, it will have a huge affect on the urban area and rolling blackouts may be necessary. The mayor asked citizens to conserve power.
  • Four firefighters have been injured. Three of them are from LA City FD and one is from LA County FD. No other details were provided about the nature of the injuries.
  • Portions of the fire have burned into the Sesnon fire of last month.

Here is a map of the Sayer fire near Sylmar that was created from satellite imagery last night. It is at least several hours old and does not show that the fire has crossed the 5 freeway, which it has. The red area is the fire. It is moving toward the west or southwest.

Shortly after the press conference, a person from the LA Dept. of Water and Power was interviewed who said that of the 5 major powerlines coming into the city, two are down for repairs. He was not clear on why or when, but it seemed that they were already down when the fire started. This would complicate matters if a third one went down.

Infrared imagery of Montecito's Tea fire

A screen grab from the Infrared Imagery

Robert, in a comment on our earlier thread, “Map of Tea Fire From Television“, said:

I just posted this morning’s thermal IR imagery- http://www.fireimaging.com/homepage.html

Thanks Robert. For those not familiar with infrared imagery, it is not exactly a map, but is a plot of heat detected this morning by sensors on an aircraft. Trained infrared interpreters can take this imagery and draw the perimeter of the fire on a map.

The resolution of the “map” is not great but you can almost see where houses are in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas.

Very cool. Thanks Robert.

Map of Tea fire (from television)

The quality of these images photographed from a television is not great, but here they are. The TV crew shot video of them on the wall at the Incident Command Post. We believe the boundary that zig-zags east/west across the map is the border of the Los Padres National Forest, with the forest being on the north side of the line. At the very bottom of the second map are the cities of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

At the top-center of the first map you can barely make out Gibraltar Road that goes roughly north out of Santa Barbara up into the National Forest past Rattlesnake Canyon Park.

We posted other maps and information about the fire in other posts here, here, and here.

Click on the maps to see larger versions.

Update on Tea fire near Montecito

Update @ 12:30 p.m. PT

Westmont college was providing updates on their regular website even after the electricity was cut off by using natural gas-powered generators, but after the gas line was turned off they operated for a few hours on UPS (batteries) before they had to shut down. Now they have a temporary web site set up (probably off campus?) with current updates HERE.

This is their latest entry:

8:00 am: There are no active fires on campus, no injuries, and everyone is safe.

Wesmont has 326 students remaining in the Gym; those students with transportation have been released from campus because it is safe for them to travel on area roads.

Westmont has lost eight structures, four buildings in Clark halls (F,G,M,S), the physics building, the old math building and the two quonset huts. The later three structures were scheduled for demolition soon.

Fourteen faculty homes in Las Barrancas have burned; there is damage to trees, and wooded areas on campus, but much of the formal gardens remains intact.

How to get more information:

Information for local residents about evacuations, road closures, and a phone number to call, (805) 681-5197, can be found at the Santa Barbara County web site.
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Update @ 9:15 a.m. PT

Information from a press conference that just occurred:

  • The winds were 60 mph when the fire started at 6 p.m. near the Tea House yesterday.
  • It started in the city of Montecito, but now is managed under a Unified Command by Commanders from Montecito, U.S. Forest Service, Santa Barbara County, and Santa Barbara City.
  • The current strategy is to hook the fire on the east and west flanks and drive it up into the national forest, protecting the urban area. The coast in that area runs east and west.
  • There have been two serious burn injuries. (Fox 11 had an interview with a doctor from a burn center who reported that a firefighter from LA City with serious burns was treated and released from his facility.)
  • A CalFire incident management team will assume command at 6 p.m. today.

Los Angeles TV Channel 4 reported that a dozen faculty homes at Westmont College burned.

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As the sun comes up over the Tea fire south of Santa Barbara, California near Montecito it is becoming evident that 2,500 1,500 acres and at least 100 homes have burned. There are reports that 13 people have been injured and are being treated in hospitals, 10 of them with smoke inhalation, but 3 have been transported to burn centers in the Los Angeles area.

A map of the Tea fire can be found at our earlier post. Two maps are available and they should be current if you refresh your browser. The maps also show the evacuation areas.

Photo courtesy of TC on flickr

The Tea fire was pushed by winds that are unique to the Santa Barbara area. Called Sundowner winds, they often begin in the late afternoon or early evening and replace the usual cool, moist coastal air with with a hot, dry wind. These winds backed off overnight and are expected to blow at about 10-15 mph today with temperatures in the mid-80s. Red flag warnings are in effect for some areas of southern California with wind gusts up to 60-70 mph possible in the mountain areas of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties through Saturday.

About 700 firefighters will be working the fire today, and they expect to have help from 9 helicopters and 10 air tankers, including the DC-10 air tanker. Last night three night-flying helicopters made water drops.

Several buildings burned on the 135-acre campus of Westmont College, a private religious college, but no injuries were reported as 800 students took refuge in the gymnasium. The local Fox 11 TV station this morning reported that the physics building, the psychology building, and a couple of dorms burned.

The Montecito area has one of the highest concentrations of very expensive homes in the world and many celebrities have residences there, including Steve Martin, Steven Spielburg, Kevin Costner, Kirk Douglas, Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe, and Ellen Degeneres.