Largest wildfire in Los Angeles history forces hundreds to evacuate

LOS ANGELES, Sept 2 (Reuters) - A wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles rapidly grew on Saturday into what the mayor called the largest blaze in the city's history, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people and the closure of a major highway.

The 5,000-acre (2,023-hectare) La Tuna Fire, named after the canyon area where it erupted on Friday, has led authorities to evacuate more than 700 homes in a north Los Angeles neighborhood and in nearby Burbank and Glendale, officials said.

13 PHOTOS
Ponderosa Fire
See Gallery
Ponderosa Fire
A firefighter battles the Ponderosa Fire east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Flames from the Ponderosa Fire burn a home east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Embers fly from a tree as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Flames consume a garage as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Flames consume a garage as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Firefighters battle the Ponderosa Fire east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Flames consume a garage as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Flames consume a garage as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
A car scorched by the Ponderosa Fire rests in a clearing east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
The remains of a residence leveled by the Ponderosa Fire rest in a clearing east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation workers, who supervise inmate fire crews, watch as the Ponderosa Fire burns east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Cars scorched by the Ponderosa Fire rest in a clearing east of Oroville, California, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Authorities warned of erratic winds that could force them to widen the evacuation zone after the fire destroyed one house in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"Other than that, no loss of any property," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. "That is a pretty amazing thing."

The fire was only 10 percent contained with more than 500 firefighters battling it.

The blaze in thick brush that has not burned in decades was slowly creeping down a rugged hillside on Saturday toward houses, with temperatures in the area approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), the Los Angeles Fire Department said in an alert.

"This fire, which broke out yesterday, we can now say is the largest fire in the history of L.A. city, in terms of its acreage," Garcetti told reporters.

10 PHOTOS
La Tuna Fire
See Gallery
La Tuna Fire
The La Tuna Canyon fire burns in the hills above Burbank, California, early September 2, 2017. The brush fire which quickly burned 2,000 acres started on September 1 and was being driven by heat wave temperatures and high winds. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The La Tuna Canyon fire burns in the hills above Burbank, California, early September 2, 2017. The brush fire which quickly burned 2,000 acres started on September 1 and was being driven by heat wave temperatures and high winds. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The La Tuna Canyon fire burns in the hills above Burbank, California, early September 2, 2017. The brush fire which quickly burned 2,000 acres started on September 1 and was being driven by heat wave temperatures and high winds. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The La Tuna Canyon fire burns in the hills above Burbank, California, early September 2, 2017. The brush fire which quickly burned 2,000 acres started on September 1 and was being driven by heat wave temperatures and high winds. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter drops water on the La Tuna Canyon fire at night in the hills above Burbank, California, early September 2, 2017. The brush fire which quickly burned 2,000 acres started on September 1 and was being driven by heat wave temperatures and high winds. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A view from the La Tuna Canyon Fire on September 01, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A view from the La Tuna Canyon Fire on September 01, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A view from the La Tuna Canyon Fire on September 01, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A view from the La Tuna Canyon Fire on September 01, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The fire could make the air unhealthy to breathe in parts of Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city, and nearby suburbs, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said in an advisory.

Video posted online by local media showed the fire burning along the 210 Freeway when it broke out on Friday, with smoke hovering over the roadway as cars passed by flames a few dozen feet away. Officials quickly closed a stretch of the freeway.

More than 400 miles (644 km) to the north, the so-called Ponderosa Fire has burned 3,880 acres, or about 1,570 hectares, and destroyed 30 homes in Butte County since it broke out on Tuesday. It prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders earlier this week to residents of some 500 homes.

The blaze was 45 percent contained.

California Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency declaration on Friday to free up additional resources to battle the Ponderosa blaze.

Wildfires in the U.S. West have burned more than 7.1 million acres (2.9 million hectares) since the beginning of the year, about 50 percent more than during the same time period in 2016, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Helen Popper and Mary Milliken)

Read Full Story