Suspect arrested in 1,325-acre Palisades Fire; evacuation orders lifted

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A person detained over the weekend in connection with the 1,325-acre Palisades Fire in the Santa Monica Mountains has been arrested, officials announced Monday.

Investigators have deemed the cause of the fire, which started Friday night in a remote area off Michael Lane and Palisades Court in Pacific Palisades, as suspicious. The flames spread through vegetation that hasn’t burned in half a century.

Arson investigators detained and released one person on Saturday but a second individual was later arrested, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a Monday morning news conference.

Terrazas indicated suspicions grew when an additional burn area emerged Saturday afternoon north of the original fire.

“We do feel we have the right person,” Terrazas said. “Anytime you have multiple points of origin, your first thought is, ‘This is not natural,’” he said.

The unidentified suspect was being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation, Terrazas said.

The fire had burned 1,325 acres and was 23% contained as of Monday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Air tankers were requested early in the afternoon to aid in the firefight after initially being unable to fly in the morning hours due to the cloud cover. As of 3 p.m., three airplanes were battling the flames in rugged terrain, along with several helicopters, fire officials said.

Terrazas said he is “optimistic” about firefighters’ chances of making progress on the fire Monday, especially with air tankers up in the skies.

As a result of successful firefighting efforts, evacuation orders in Topanga were lifted at 6 p.m., authorities said. They had been in place for about a thousand residents east of Topanga Canyon, between the Community House and View Ridge, and north of Entrada Road, south of Oakwood Drive and east of Henry Ridge.

The area is peppered with affluent homes that are just outside Topanga State Park, a destination popular for hiking and recreation.

Additionally, both sides of Topanga Canyon Boulevard would be open to residents with ID only Monday night between Pacific Coast Highway and Mulholland Drive, according to Caltrans. The right lane of the southbound PCH is also closed between Temescal Canyon Road and Chataqua Boulevard.

The campus of Topanga Canyon Elementary Charter School will be closed through at least Tuesday due to the poor air quality caused by the fire, but remote instruction would continue, Principal Kevin Kassebaum said.

Evacuation warnings are also in place for the 1500 block of Chastain Parkway West. Residents north of Chastain Parkway over to Calle Del Dielo were urged to be prepared to flee.

The evacuation warning includes residents at Calle De Sarah, Calle Bellevista and all homes west of Calle Del Cielo and Ave Ashley up to the hills.

Pierce College in Woodland Hills has been chosen as a designated area for large animal evacuations, and small animals can be taken to the L.A. County animal shelter in Agoura Hills, according to the LASD Lost Hills station.

Those who have been evacuated and need help can contact the Red Cross virtual evacuation line at 323-374-3525.

No homes have been damaged in the fire and no injuries to the public have been reported, according to Terrazas.

One firefighter did suffer a minor injury Sunday night.

A smoke advisory was in effect until at least Tuesday afternoon as a result of ash and smoke being sent across parts of Los Angeles County. It was expected to impact central L.A., northwest coastal areas, the San Fernando Valley and western part of the San Gabriel Valley.

On Monday afternoon, winds pushed smoke northeast into the mountains in the Topanga State Park and cities in the San Fernando Valley including Reseda, Tarzana, Encino, Van Nuys and Burbank.

Later Monday into Tuesday morning, winds were expected to also send some smoke into Calabasas, North Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, along with the areas impacted Monday afternoon, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Particulate matter levels are expected to be highest overnight, as smoke is likely to remain closer to the ground.

Anyone in an area where they can see smoke is advised to stay inside and keep windows and doors closed.

Terrazas expected the firefight to continue on for several more days.

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