Containment of 59-Square-Mile Sand Fire in Santa Clarita Area Increases to 25 Percent

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As a state of emergency was declared Tuesday, firefighters appear to be gaining control of the Sand Fire, which has been burning in the Santa Clarita area since Friday.

Heat from flames push firefighters back as they monitor a flare up in brush along Soledad Canyon Road near Acton on Monday. (Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Heat from flames push firefighters back as they monitor a flare up in brush along Soledad Canyon Road near Acton on Monday. (Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

More than 3,000 firefighters have worked to increase containment of the fire to 25 percent by Tuesday morning, according to the federal InciWeb information page on the fire.

The Sand Fire has scorched 37,700 acres, or about 59 square miles, in the Santa Clarita area and the Angeles National Forest.

No briefing was held on the fire Tuesday, and the latest acreage estimate came out about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, after an active overnight burn that claimed 4,356 additional acres.

The northern flank of the fire was the hottest and most active overnight, and firefighters were focused on the community of Acton. The Sand Fire was also spreading into areas ravaged by the massive 251-square-mile Station Fire in 2009, meaning vegetation there will provide less fuel for flames.

Firefighters were also lighting backfires on Tuesday, creating controlled burns to help stop the spread of the Sand Fire.

With highs in the low 100s, Tuesday was another hot day for firefighters, who were working in rugged terrain.

"It's very hard work. The country is incredibly steep and unforgiving. And you throw in the hot temperatures and the wind and it just makes our job really difficult," said Lee Rickard of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, operations branch manager for one section of the fire.

Meanwhile, most of the residents forced to evacuate their homes while the fire burned out of control over the weekend were allowed to return Monday evening.

The following areas remained under evacuation orders:

  • Placerita Canyon Road from Running Horse Lane to Pacy Street.
  • Little Tujunga Canyon Road from the Wildlife Way Station to Sand Canyon Road.
  • Placerita Canyon Road and Aqua Dulce Canyon Road from 1/4 mile south of the 14 Freeway to Soledad Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road 1 mile from Aqua Dulce Road in both directions.

The wildfire has destroyed 18 homes since it broke out near the 14 Freeway and Sand Canyon Road on the afternoon of July 22.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday morning to declare a state of local emergency, the county announced on Twitter.

Later in the day, an emergency proclamation was issued for the Sand Fire from Sacramento, where State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is acting governor while Jerry Brown attends the Democratic National Convention.

The state proclamation also covers the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County, where 19,311 acres have burned in the Big Sur area since July 22. Twenty homes have burned in the Soberanes Fire.

On Saturday evening in Santa Clarita, firefighters discovered a man’s body in a burned car on Iron Canyon Road. He was identified Tuesday as 67-year-old Robert Bresnick. A coroner's official said Bresnick had refused evacuation orders.

A neighbor of the victim told KTLA Bresnick had been separated from his significant other while the pair were evacuating.

Residents looking for additional info on the Sand Fire can call the Los Angeles County Fire Information Center at 323-881-2413 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

The Angeles National Forest Information Center can also be reached by calling 626-574-5208 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Anyone wishing to help fire victims can donate to the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate.

Elsewhere in Southern California, firefighters were battling smaller brush blazes in San Bernardino and Pomona.

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