Saddle Ridge Fire burns over 7,000 acres and dozens of homes in Los Angeles

The fire is near Sylmar and Granada Hills

UPDATED at 6:16 PDT October 12, 2019

Map of the Saddle Ridge Fire, October 12, 2019
Map of the Saddle Ridge Fire, October 12, 2019. Los Angeles Fire Department.

Map of the Saddle Ridge Fire, October 12, 2019.

MD87 drops on Saddle Ridge Fire
Air tanker 101, an MD87, drops on the Saddle Ridge Fire on the north side of Los Angeles at 2:24 p.m. PDT October 11, 2019. Screenshot from KTLA video.

UPDATED at 7:12 p.m. PDT October 11, 2019

The Los Angeles Fire Department reported Friday afternoon that the Saddle Ridge Fire had burned 7,542 acres and was being fought by 1,000 firefighters. Numerous helicopters and air tankers are assisting firefighters on the ground, including the two Super Scoopers from Quebec under contract with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The fire started at about 9 p.m. on Thursday in Sylmar and spread across Interstate 5 into the Granada Hills area north of the 118 freeway.

At 5 p.m.  Friday the Los Angeles Fire Department began allowing  Los Angeles city residents who are under mandatory evacuation and whose homes are north of the 118 freeway to be escorted by LAPD personnel to their homes for a 5 minute period to obtain important documents, medication, small pets, etc. The two locations where residents can go to obtain escorts are the Porter Ranch Town center at Porter Ranch & Rinaldi and at the Target located at the northwest corner of Balboa & San Fernando Mission.

Evacuation orders are still in effect in several areas.

Super Scooper Castaic Lake water
A Super Scooper from Quebec on contract with Los Angeles County FD scoops 1,600 gallons of water at Castaic Lake Friday. LA County Parks and Recreation photo.

There has been no update on the number of structures destroyed since the Fire Department said Friday morning that 25 had burned. Assessment teams are working to gather more information.

One firefighter has sustained a minor eye injury and a civilian suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the hospital.

The wind pushing the fire slowed Friday afternoon, but at 6:40 p.m. was still strong, with sustained speeds of 16 to 20 mph gusting at 30 to 40. The relative humidity barely registered, hovering around five percent in the afternoon. The forecast indicates there will be no humidity recovery Friday night, with it maxing out at 9 percent by 7 a.m. Saturday, after which it will sink to five percent Saturday afternoon. The wind will remain out of the northeast Friday night and Saturday, 13 to 17 gusting at 20 to 26 during the night and 7 to 13 mph gusting to 17 Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon, the wind then out of the east, will relax to 7 mph. All this indicates that conditions on Saturday for battling the fire will be more favorable for firefighters.

UPDATED at 12:12 p.m. PDT Oct. 11, 2019

Air tankers and helicopters began hitting the Saddle Ridge Fire early in the morning on Friday, battling the wind in their attempts to drop fire retardant and water in strategic locations to slow the fire and assist firefighters on the ground. At least five large air tankers, two water scooping air tankers, and numerous helicopters worked the fire in the morning. (see map below)

After six a.m. the wind slowed slightly, decreasing at Newhall Pass to 22 mph gusting at 38 to 50 mph out of the north.

Saddle Ridge Fire map
Map showing the perimeter of the Saddle Ridge Fire at 2:30 a.m. PDT Oct. 11, 2019. Derived from a Los Angeles Fire Department product.
Saddle Ridge Fire Los Angeles
Firefighters protect homes on the Saddle Ridge Fire on the north side of Los Angeles. Screenshot from KTLA video at 11:45 a.m. Oct. 1, 2019.

9:35 a.m. PDT October 11, 2019

The Saddle Ridge Fire that was reported at 9 p.m. October 10 on the north side of Los Angeles has burned at least 4,700 acres and 25 homes. The fire started near Sylmar northeast of the interchange of the 210 and 5 freeways, jumped those highways and kept running to the southwest north of the 118 near the densely populated Granada Hills area. All three of those freeways have at times been closed due to the fire.

At a 7:30 a.m. press conference fire officials said approximately 25 homes and one commercial structure have been destroyed.

About 23,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation orders affecting roughly 100,000 residents north of the 118 all the way west to the Ventura County line.  The Los Angeles Fire Department web site has details about evacuations, however, at times the site has been non-responsive. At 7:30 a.m. some of the evacuation centers were nearing capacity.

Officials had to evacuate hundreds of teenagers incarcerated at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall facility in Sylmar, a facility that holds 278 teenagers, most of them 15 to 18 years old.

Throughout the night a weather station in Newhall Pass near the intersection of the 5 and 14 recorded winds out of the north at 25 mph gusting at 40 to 50 mph, with single digit relative humidity. The forecast calls for northeast winds to begin decreasing at 11 a.m., 25 gusting to 36, and by 5 p.m. 18 gusting to 26 — all out of the northeast, and the relative humidity will drop to 4 percent. These conditions will make it difficult for firefighters to contain the fire. During strong winds aircraft may not be able to fly safely at low levels and the retardant or water can get blown off target.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

2 thoughts on “Saddle Ridge Fire burns over 7,000 acres and dozens of homes in Los Angeles”

  1. Just a quick note Bill, the fire is located in my old Lopez Canyon FPT Unit on the Tujunga RD Angeles N.F. The FS fire map shows that the fire jumped the 210 FWY and is now burning between FWY and New Hall Pass RD. That’s an old but active oil field they are going to have a hell of a time if they can not keep it out of the oil fields with storage tanks. Last time we had a fire just like this one, it started in Newhall pass and burnt all the way to Malibu Beach 200 or 300 homes lost. Good luck and BE SAFE.

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