Saddleridge Fire Now More Than Half Contained as Crews Halt Flames’ Progress

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Firefighters work on containing a flare up at a mulch supplier in Sylmar during the Saddleridge Fire on Oct. 12, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Firefighters work on containing a flare up at a mulch supplier in Sylmar during the Saddleridge Fire on Oct. 12, 2019. (Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

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Containment on the Saddleridge Fire rose to 52% Wednesday as firefighters were able to stop the blaze from gaining any ground for the second day in a row.

The blaze has stood at 8,391 acres — or about 13 square miles — since Monday night, and crews say they’re taking advantage of favorable conditions to tame the inferno that forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed homes.

With the threat of stronger winds returning this weekend, firefighters plan to work overnight to increase containment lines in remote, rugged areas that are burning. Some will also be assigned to patrol for smoldering debris and flare-ups, officials said.

Winds of 20-35 mph are expected Thursday morning, and there’s a chance of red flag conditions returning this weekend, according to Wednesday evening’s multiagency incident report.

The blaze that broke out last Thursday, Oct. 10, had threatened more than 17,600 homes at its peak.

It wound up destroying 19 structures and damaging another 88, according to authorities’ latest assessment.

A map released Tuesday by the Los Angeles Fire Department shows the destructive path the fire cut as it progressed across the northern San Fernando Valley, burning homes in Sylmar, Granada Hills and Porter Ranch.

Thousands had to evacuate, and one man died at a hospital after going into cardiac arrest. Eight firefighters have also suffered injuries that officials say are not life-threatening.

An assistance center for those impacted is opening Thursday at the Sylmar Recreation Center, 13109 Borden Ave. The service will run through Oct. 26 with hours from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation, but officials have determined it originated at the base of a Southern California Edison transmission tower in Sylmar, near Yarnell Street and Saddle Ridge Road.

The utility had cut power to thousands in an attempt to preempt fire hazards amid red flag conditions, but the communities burned were not among the several impacted by shutoffs.

SCE is weighing more power cuts starting as early as Thursday that could affect about 32,500 customers in six counties, including Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.

The National Weather Service says strong northerly winds will hit Southern California beginning Thursday night and could stay through next Tuesday. With low humidity kicking in Friday, there’s a potential for more widespread critical fire weather conditions.

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