Palisades Fire is burning northwest of Santa Monica, California

The fire is in Topanga State Park

Updated at 9:23 p.m. PDT May 15, 2021

Palisades Fire map
Map showing the approximate location of the Palisades Fire (the large red arrow) at 7 p.m. MDT May 15, 2021. It is spreading north-northwest.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Palisades Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

Authorities have ordered evacuations for some areas near Topanga as the Palisades Fire continues to spread north-northwest from The Summit community toward Topanga in Southern California. (see map of the Palisades fire above)

The evacuations affect locations east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard between Topanga Community Center and Viewridge Road, as well as those north of Entrada Road, south of Oakwood Drive and east of Henry Ridge Mountain Way.

The fire crossed the Topanga Fire Road at about 7 p.m.  At that time Air Attack orbiting over the fire estimated it had burned more than 750 acres.

Palisades Fire
Palisades Fire looking NE from 69Bravo Helistop at 8:19 p.m. PDT May 15, 2021.

The only bit of good news is the relative humidity will increase Saturday night from the mid-80s to 100 percent along with a 24 percent chance of 0.02 inch of rain. On Sunday afternoon the chance of precipitation decreases to 10 percent and the relative humidity will drop to 60 percent — still high to support the spread of a typical Southern California vegetation fire, but the 60 year old brush near Topanga is showing it can burn in high humidity during the extreme drought currently affecting the area.

The Palisades Fire started in the city limits of Los Angeles, but appears likely to spread into Los Angeles County, if it hasn’t already.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. PDT May 15, 2021

Palisades Fire
Map showing the approximate location of the Palisades Fire in Topanga State Park, May 15, 2021.

The Palisades Fire was reported at about 10 p.m. Friday 5 miles northwest of Santa Monica, CA in Topanga State Park. (See map above.) The blaze is less than a mile north of The Summit, a gated community of upscale homes.

At 5:20 p.m. PDT Saturday firefighters estimated it had burned 150 to 200 acres.

A 10 mph wind out of the south is pushing the fire up hill to the north into a remote area that is difficult for firefighters to access. It is moving at moderate rate of spread, which is faster than I would expect considering that the relative humidity near the fire at Green Peak was high, 79 percent at 5:16 p.m. PDT.

LA County Helicopter 14, a Bell 412 Palisades Fire
LA County Helicopter 14, a Bell 412, refilling at 69Bravo during the Palisades Fire, 5-15-2021

It is spreading through vegetation that has not burned in at least 60 years, according to records from the National Interagency Fire Center. This buildup of old, possibly decadent brush helps explain how it’s burning so well while the RH is high. Live fuel moisture may also be a factor.

Several helicopters and at least a half dozen fixed wing air tankers worked on the blaze until about 6 p.m. when the tankers had to be shut down due to poor visibility. The helicopters will continue to drop water through the night, unless the visibility gets even worse.

MyNewsLA reported that members of the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau were searching for a person suspected of setting the fire. The search was confirmed by Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Palisades Fire
Palisades Fire as seen from Green Peak, looking northwest at 4:41 p.m. PDT May 15, 2021.
Palisades Fire
Palisades Fire as seen from 69Bravo Helistop, looking northeast at 4:38 P.M. PDT May 15, 2021.

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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.