Evacuations Lifted After South Fire Near Santa Clarita Burns 175 Acres

The South Fire near Santa Clarita grew to 175 acres, triggering evacuations in nearby neighborhoods early Saturday evening that were later lifted, authorities said.

The fire was located near the 5 Freeway and Calgrove Boulevard in Newhall, and the first evacuations were ordered for residents living along White Oak Ct., Valley Oak Ct. and La Salle Canyon Drive just before 4 p.m., according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

At 8 p.m., officials said the fire was 30 percent contained and had burned 175 acres. It was 0 percent contained four hours earlier.

All mandatory evacuations were lifted at around 8:30 p.m., city officials said. Earlier, authorities said about 200 homes were being threatened by the fire.

The evacuation orders had been issued for residents living along several other nearby roads.

Some residents in the area tried protecting their homes by spraying them down with garden hoses, while around 400 firefighters battled the flames and law enforcement officials went door-to-door asking people to leave.

"This could be worse," said Tom Beldyga, who was hosing down the home of his friend who had been evacuated.

"I just wanted to do whatever I could to help him out," he said. "We came over because they were loading up their cars and all of a sudden, they loaded up and they didn't have enough room for all the people."

Beldyga said he tried helping his friend in carrying things out of the house and getting everyone driven to safety. He said he could see flames just along the freeway when he was driving over.

Earlier in the day, city officials said the slow lane along the nearby northbound 5 Freeway was shut down as firefighters battled the blaze. Caltrans officials later said the two furthest right lanes along the 5 Freeway were expected to be closed until about 8:30 p.m.

The evacuation centers were located at College of the Canyon Physical Education Center and the Hilton Garden Inn located at 27710 The Old Road in Valencia, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Officials initially said large animals can be taken to the Castaic Animal Shelter, but later said the shelter would only be for smaller family pets and horses could not be housed there.