Severe fires in the west, causing thousands of evacuations

La Tuna fire 4
David Mc New Getty
Author

03 September, 2017

Several hundred firefighters worked to contain a blaze that chewed through brush-covered mountains, prompting evacuation orders for homes in Los Angeles, Burbank and Glendale.

Temperatures in the area had reached as high as 106 degrees on Friday, accompanied by 50 miles per hour gusts of wind, according to Carol Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

At one point during the night, the fire was spreading in four directions because of the erratic winds and intense heat. That blaze, at 5,000 acres and growing, is being called the largest fire in Los Angeles city history.

The man charged with starting the fire, John Ballenger, made his first court appearance in Butte County Superior Court on Friday, District Attorney Michael Ramsey said.

"The La Tuna Canyon Fire is an emergency that requires all available resources to protect our residents and keep our homes and other structures out of harm's way", Garcetti said in a statement.

Only one home has burned and no one has been injured.

Earlier, the mayor sought to reassure residents that the fire was not as bad as the percent of containment may suggest.

La Tuna fire 3
Brush fire in Sun Valley closes 210 freeway with flames and high winds

Fire officials said erratic wind and weather were posing the greatest challenges to extinguishing the fire.

"Being ready and set to go is what we try and preach to residents", he said. No homes have been damaged and no injuries have been reported.

Authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation on Friday in the Burbank area as the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) tackled a raging wildfire near La Tuna Canyon, Newsweek reported. If there's no wind, this is a relatively easy fire to put out.

"We are anxious about the fire hooking, of course, into the southeast, into Glendale and working its way up from there", Garcetti said. Firefighters initially feared the flames would reach homes by midnight Friday.

The week-long heat wave was generated by high pressure over the west of the U.S., the National Weather Service said.

But officials say the fire's location in steep and rugged terrain plus hot and dry temperatures are complicating firefighters' efforts.

Wildfires in the US West have burned more than 7.1 million acres (2.9 million hectares) since the beginning of the year, about 50 percent more than during the same time period in 2016, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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