Powerline investigated as possible source of Saddle Ridge Fire

Above: 3-D map of the Saddle Ridge Fire at 12:27 a.m. PDT October 13, 2019.

Fire investigators are looking at a power line as a possible ignition point for the Saddle Ridge Fire that burned 7,965 acres and 21 structures on the north side of Los Angeles. (see map above) At least two residents of Sylmar said they first saw the fire at the base of a transmission tower. Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said Friday night that he was aware of those reports, and, “We believe that witness, and someone else who said something similar.” The Southern California Edison power line had not been shut off during the Santa Ana wind event.

All of the evacuation orders have been lifted that earlier affected about 100,000 residents.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Saddle Ridge Fire, click here.)

The strong north to northeast Santa Ana wind event that caused the fire to spread seven miles, from Sylmar to Granda Hills and almost to Chatsworth, has come to a close. The area is now experiencing typical on shore flows, bringing higher humidity and lower temperatures.

One person died during the fire. Authorities said Aiman Elsabbagh, 54, suffered a heart attack while trying to protect his home with a garden hose and passed away later in a hospital.

Map Saddle Ridge Fire
Map of the Saddle Ridge Fire at 12:27 a.m. PDT October 13, 2019.

Top Tweets from the Saddle Ridge Fire

Helicopter night water drop Saddle ridge Fire
A helicopter drops water near a fire engine during very windy conditions on the Saddle Ridge Fire in Los Angeles. Screenshot from KTLA video.

Below is a collection of some of the more interesting tweets that recorded activity during the Saddle Ridge Fire on the north side of Los Angeles October 10 and 11, 2019. The fire has burned 7,552 acres and damaged or destroyed 31 structures (13 are 100% loss, 3 are 50% loss, 4 are 25% loss and 11 are 10% loss). Most, but not all, mandatory evacuations have been lifted. More information is at the Los Angeles Fire Department website.

(Click here to see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Saddle Ridge Fire, including the most recent)

Continue reading “Top Tweets from the Saddle Ridge Fire”

Caples Fire spreads to the south

The escaped prescribed fire is 15 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe

Caples Fire 3-D map
3-D map showing the perimeter of the Caples Fire at 9:19 p.m. PDT Oct. 11, 2019 that was provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

The south side of the Caples Fire was active Friday and spread across the Silver Fork of the American River. According to information released by the U.S. Forest Service the fire was mapped at 2,666 acres Friday night. The north perimeter is fairly quiet, but the mapping flight found intense heat along sections of the south perimeter.

The fire is on the Eldorado National Forest 3 miles west of Kirkwood, California and 15 miles southwest of the south shore of Lake Tahoe. A Type 3 Incident Management Team has assumed command. Resources assigned include 6 Type 1 Hotshot crews, 8 Type 2IA hand crews, 3 helicopters, 20 engines, 3 dozers, and 3 water tenders for a total of 752 personnel.

The Caples Fire has not been listed on the National Interagency Coordination Center’s Incident Management Situation Report for the last two days. The estimated costs of suppressing the fire through October 11 is $250,000, according to the Incident Status Summary report.

The fire began as a project to burn debris piles and was classified as a prescribed fire. Personnel from the El Dorado National Forest, as described on the Forest’s Twitter account, conducted ignition operations on at least the following days: October 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9. (More details are in October 11 article) Strong winds that had been predicted for several days arrived on October 9 along with a Red Flag Warning. As the fire continued to spread beyond the intended objective for burning the piles, on Friday October 11 the Forest Service changed the status of the prescribed fire to a wildland fire.

Smoke from the fire can occasionally be seen on live cameras depending on the direction they are pointed. Check out the Leek Springs, Sierra at Tahoe, and Big Hill cameras.

Caples fire map
Map showing the perimeter of the Caples Fire at 9:19 p.m. PDT Oct. 11, 2019 that was provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

Prescribed fire escapes on Eldorado National Forest

The fire has burned over 2,000 acres 15 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe in Northern California

Caples prescribed fire October 7, 2019
Caples “prescribed fire”. Photo by Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree, published October 7, 2019.

I was first aware of the Caples  prescribed fire on the Eldorado National Forest when three tweets were published by the forest’s Twitter account on the afternoon of Monday October 7 saying, “Ignitions continue on Caples Prescribed Fire. More smoke is expected”. Photos taken from an aircraft by Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree also were Tweeted.

At that time there had  been news and discussions for several days in the wildland fire community about very strong winds and Red Flag Warnings that were due to hit California Wednesday October 9. Smoke from the prescribed fire was easily detected by a satellite October 7. It was a large amount of smoke to be generated by what was supposed to have been some burning debris piles.

The project began October 1 and involved disposing of debris piles by burning. Additional ignitions occurred on October 5 and 7.

The information below came from the @EldoradoNF Twitter account.

Tuesday, October 8:  A tweet from the National Forest said, “The goal of today’s burn operation is continue active ignitions to reach the end of the ridge and tie into a dozer line that extends to the 10N30 road before the wind event that is predicted for this evening. No additional ignitions are planned this week.” And later that day, “Ignitions on the Caples Prescribed Fire have been completed and crews will patrol and monitor the area over the next few days during the wind. No additional ignitions are planned this week. ”

Wednesday October 9: “Today’s goal is to finish active ignitions to tie into the 10N30 road before the wind event now predicted for Wednesday night. Ignitions were intended to be done yesterday but due to unfavorable wind conditions during the day shift the operation is continuing today.”  And later that day, “Personnel on the Caples Prescribed Burn continue ignitions down the western perimeter of the fire towards forest road 10N30. A total of 1,080 acres have been treated, exceeding today’s target.” And later, “Ignitions are complete on the western end of the Caples Burn. Crews will patrol and monitor the area over the next few days during the wind event predicted to start this evening. Smoke will continue to be visible as the fire consumes unburned fuels within the fire perimeter.” And later, “The scheduled PG&E Power Outage has resulted in the closure of Eldorado National Forest offices except Camino ECC. Fire and essential personnel continue to work, however, forest offices are not open and phones are not operational until power is restored.”

Thursday, October 10: No additional information except for a Community Meeting scheduled in Pollock Pines that evening. One of the six items on the agenda was, “Brief updates on Caples Prescribed Fire and PG&E Power Outage”.

Friday October 11: “The Caples prescribed burn declared a wildland fire on today at 1:30 pm. Fire managers made the decision due to unfavorable weather conditions and the inability to meet previously established objectives. Inciweb is down. We will update when it comes back up.”


Today, October 11, personnel from the Eldorado National Forest report that the fire has burned 2,143 acres. It is 3 miles west of Kirkwood and 15 miles southwest of the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Approximately 152 personnel and a Type 3 Incident Management Team has been assigned.

Here is a report from the Northern California Geographic Coordination Center, Friday morning October 11:

Extreme fire behavior with wind driven runs, torching and spotting has been observed. A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 1000 this morning for the fire area. There is a threat to structures on remote ranches in the area. Private timberlands, major municipal watershed, historical sites and critical wildlife habitat are also threatened. Smoke impacts to the Sacramento Valley and Lake Tahoe areas are possible. Road, trail and area closures are in effect in the fire area.

Caples Fire Map
Map showing heat on the Caples Fire detected by a satellite at 3:36 a.m. PDT October 11, 2019.

Caples Fire escaped prescribed fire information

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Fred. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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.

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

Wildfire burning south of San Francisco on San Bruno Mtn.

Fire Brisbane, California
Fire on a steep slope above Brisbane, California south of San Francisco. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

A wildfire that started around 11 a.m. has burned approximately 10 acres on a steep north-facing  slope near Brisbane, California south of San Francisco. It is burning under high-voltage power lines, but there is no official  word on the cause.

The area  is  not in a PG&E preemptive power shutoff area.

Fire Brisbane, California
Fire on a steep slope above Brisbane, California south of San Francisco. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

ABC7 occasionally has live video.