Evacuees Return Home After Brush Fire Chars 13 Residences in Santa Clarita

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Residents were allowed to return home Monday night after a 10-acre blaze broke out near a housing complex in the Newhall area of Santa Clarita earlier in the afternoon, damaging several units.

The fire was first reported in the 20900 block of Via Estrella, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said shortly before 4:30 p.m. The incident, being dubbed the Railroad Fire, was 85 percent contained by the end of the day.

A brush fire appears to move into a residence in Santa Clarita on July 30, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

A brush fire appears to move into a residence in Santa Clarita on July 30, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

An hour after breaking out, the flames covered about 10 acres and had burned at least three buildings. But shortly after that, the fire stopped spreading, officials said.

Aerial footage from the scene showed blocks of tall flames on a shallow hillside butting up against The Terrace Apartments, a housing developing above Newhall Avenue off Valle Del Oro. Ultimately, 13 residences were damaged, authorities said.

Those living between Newhall Avenue and Dockweiler Drive, and between Sierra Highway and Valle Del Oro, had earlier been ordered to evacuate, but were allowed to return home late Monday night.

Residents could shelter at Golden Valley High School at 27051 Robert C. Lee Parkway, sheriff’s officials said.

The incident had forced the closure of several roads, but all were later reopened with the exception of Alder and Trumpet drivers, which only those with proof of residence could use.

Patrol units from other areas and search and rescue crews were responding to assist in public safety efforts, said Shirley Miller, a public information officer for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. The Red Cross said it was also responding.

Hot, dry conditions and an abundance of vegetation allowed the fire to spread quickly. About half an hour after firefighters first responded to the scene, where the blaze was running uphill toward structures, the flames had moved into a residence.

Matt Matthews, who lives at the Terrace Apartments, said he pulled truck into his garage Monday afternoon and noticed ash was coming down like snow.

“Next thing we know, a big ball of flame, and it just rushed up the hill,” Matthews told KTLA.

Although his apartment was among those damaged, Matthews said that “at the end of the day, it’s a blessing."

"It’s all stuff that can be replaced,” he said.

A chunk of the hillside was charred to ash, but firefighters were at the top of the hill trying to keep the fire away from residences, aerial video showed. The flames had also carved a path uphill around the development’s eastern flank.

The blaze was being battled from the air as well, and the L.A. city fire department sent additional resources. County Fire Inspector Sal Alvarado said "many firefighters" were launching a "very aggressive attack."

More than 150 firefighters ultimately responded. Three were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, officials said.

No civilians were hurt.

Around 6 p.m., patches of large flames were no longer visible. It appeared firefighters had an upper hand on the incident, but authorities said crews were remain on scene overnight to monitor and mop up hotspots.

The blaze came as at least 13 major wildfires were raging across the state, at least two of which have turned deadly.

The Carr Fire surrounding Redding in Shasta County has claimed at least six lives, while two firefighters have died battling the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park.

The Cranston Fire, which burned 13,140 acres and destroyed five homes in Riverside County, remained active as well. It was 82 percent contained as of Monday night.

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