A growing Verdugo Mountains brush fire that is threatening 50 homes in the Tujunga area has prompted evacuations and the closure of the 210 Freeway in both directions on Friday, the hottest day of a brutal heat wave.
The blaze was reported just before 1:30 p.m. in a drainage along the north side of La Tuna Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Within about seven hours, it had grown to an estimated 1,500 acres.
A "precautionary evacuation" was ordered for about 200 homes in the Reverie Canyon and Haines Canyon areas. Residents on Tranquil Drive, Glen O Peace Parkway, Reverie Road and Inspiration Way were ordered to evacuate, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Burbank police also ordered the evacuation of the DeBell Golf Course, the Brace Canyon Park neighborhoods and closed several roads in the area. Additional evacuations were ordered around 10:50 p.m. for Haven Way at Joaquin Drive, Olney Place, Remy Place, Mystic View Place and Viewcrest Drive, Burbank police said.
One evacuation center is located at the Sunland Recreational Center at 8651 Foothill Blvd. in Sunland-Tujunga, the Department tweeted. The second evacuation center will be set up at McCambridge Recreation Center in Burbank by midnight.
Forward progress of the fire was initially stopped within a half-hour, but fire behavior then changed and winds began to grow, according to LAFD’s Margaret Stewart said. Embers caught in the wind jumped the freeway, causing the blaze to spread on both sides of the highway, she told KTLA.
Flames were being pushed up the mountains toward Burbank, LAFD spokesman Capt. Erik Scott said.
"We expect to be here for quite some time," he said.
Houses above the freeway from Honolulu Avenue to Verdugo Crestline Drive were the immediate concern, Stewart said about 4 p.m. She advised residents to avoid the area, saying they may not be able to safely get in and out.
"We recommend leaving early," Stewart said.
Water-dropping helicopters were making good progress stopping flames from spreading up the canyon, Stewart said. All of the city's water-dropping helicopters, four L.A. County helicopters and two fixed-wing Super Scoopers were working the fire from above.
The fire reached 10 percent containment around 6:45 p.m.
The blaze is not burning towards adjacent canyons in McGroarty Park and concerned residents there would not immediately need to be evacuated, the department added.
The National Weather Service said a thunderstorm "popped up" in the fire area about 3 p.m. "Look for chaotic winds to occur around the fire," the weather service's Oxnard office said on Twitter.
Early Friday evening, it was 106 degrees in the area of the fire, according to the Fire Department.
Drivers should avoid the 210 Freeway, which was closed in both directions for nearly 13 miles. The freeway is expected to remain closed through Saturday morning, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert about 2:20 p.m. By 3:45 p.m., eastbound lanes were shut down at the 118 Freeway, and westbound lanes were closed at 2 freeway.
The freeway closure came at the start of the three-day Labor Day weekend, leaving traffic in the area jammed.
More than 250 firefighters from the L.A. city department, as well as from the Angeles National Forest, L.A. County, Burbank and Glendale departments were responding.
KTLA's Mariel Turner contributed to this article.