Sheriff’s office searching for arsonist at Palisades Fire in SoCal

A suspect was arrested Sunday afternoon

Updated at 5:01 p.m. PDT May 17, 2021

Palisades Fire
Palisades Fire, looking northwest from Temescal Trailhead at 4:14 p.m. PDT May 17, 2021.

The Los Angeles Fire Department announced Monday morning that an adult male suspected of igniting the Palisades Fire was detained, questioned and then arrested Sunday afternoon by LAFD Arson Investigators. Ralph M. Terrazas, Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a 10 a.m. press conference on Monday that personnel in a Police Department helicopter observed the ignition of the fire, as well as a second ignition later but lost sight of him in the smoke and dense brush. The suspect was treated Sunday for smoke inhalation.

The intensity and spread of the fire slowed considerably Sunday night and Monday. As predicted, the visibility improved Monday afternoon enough to allow the use of three fixed wing air tankers which dropped retardant to assist firefighters on the ground. They supplemented the work being done by helicopters that have been dropping water. The fire has burned 1,325 acres.

There has been no change in the existing Mandatory Evacuation orders in the County of Los Angeles or the Evacuation Warning in the City of Los Angeles.

No structures have been damaged. One firefighter sustained a minor injury.

Updated at 9:52 p.m. PDT May 16, 2021

Palisades Fire May 16, 2021
Palisades Fire, looking west from Green Peak at 7:17 p.m. PDT May 16, 2021.

The active investigation into the cause of the Palisades Fire continues. Arson investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department detained and released one individual, but at 6 p.m. PDT they announced that they are questioning a second person.

The latest information about the fire puts it at 1,325 acres, but these fire updates have been running many hours behind the actual fire activity.

The weather will turn against the firefighters Monday afternoon when the wind out of the southwest will increase to 10 mph and gusts to 16 mph, with relative humidity dropping into the 50s. The cloud cover will decrease after 11 a.m. which may allow the use of fixed wing air tankers.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. PDT May 16, 2021

LA County helicopter departs 69Bravo Palisades Fire
LA County helicopter departs 69Bravo heading toward the Palisades Fire at 11:59 a.m. PDT May 16, 2021. AlertWildfire photo.

At 3:05 p.m. Sunday the Los Angeles Fire Department reported that the Palisades Fire near Topanga, California was mapped at 1,325 acres.

The Department issued a warning at 2 p.m. Sunday for residences in a portion of The Summit community to be ready to evacuate.

An Evacuation Warning is now in effect for the following area (as shown on the map above): Starting at the 1500 block of Chastain Parkway W – all homes north of Chastain Parkway over to Calle Del Cielo (eastern boundary). The warning area includes Calle De Sarah, Calle Bellevista and all homes West of Calle Del Cielo / Ave Ashley up to the hills.

All residents in this area are asked to prepare for a potential evacuation based on the developing fire activity. Secure your valuables, medicines, etc in your car and be prepared if asked to evacuate.


Evacuation warning The Summit
Evacuation warning The Summit, at 2 p.m. May 16, 2021. LAFD map.

The visibility over the fire is not adequate to allow the use of fixed wing aircraft, but helicopters are still assisting firefighters. Departments that sent helicopters include LA FD, LA County, Ventura County, and Orange County.

12:01 p.m. PDT May 16, 2021

Palisades Fire Map
Palisades Fire Map, released Sunday morning May 16, 2021. By LA Co. FD, and LA FD.

No structures have been damaged. One firefighter sustained a minor injury. There are no reported injuries to any civilians.

Continue reading “Sheriff’s office searching for arsonist at Palisades Fire in SoCal”

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.