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Aug 28

2001 Castaic Canyon Fire

Families Flee Possible Arson Fire in Castaic

Safety: The blaze, which apparently started at two points, destroys one house, burns 1,500 acres of brush and forces the closure of part of the Golden State Freeway.

Los Angeles

August 28, 2001|KRISTINA SAUERWEIN and RICHARD FAUSSET, TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A brush fire that appears to have been arson scorched more than 1,500 acres, destroyed a house and threatened other homes in the Castaic area Monday as about 600 firefighters battled flames fanned by hot winds, authorities said.

About 100 families voluntarily evacuated their horse ranches and two-story homes in Sloan Canyon, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said. The flames also forced the temporary closure of the Golden State Freeway between Templin Highway and Lake Hughes Road.

Families Flee Possible Arson Fire in Castaic

Safety: The blaze, which apparently started at two points, destroys one house, burns 1,500 acres of brush and forces the closure of part of the Golden State Freeway.

Los Angeles

August 28, 2001|KRISTINA SAUERWEIN and RICHARD FAUSSET, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
A brush fire that appears to have been arson scorched more than 1,500 acres, destroyed a house and threatened other homes in the Castaic area Monday as about 600 firefighters battled flames fanned by hot winds, authorities said.

About 100 families voluntarily evacuated their horse ranches and two-story homes in Sloan Canyon, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said. The flames also forced the temporary closure of the Golden State Freeway between Templin Highway and Lake Hughes Road.


 


 

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County Fire Inspector Roland Sprewell said the blaze appeared to start at two points, an indication of arson. He also said witnesses reported seeing someone in the area where the flames first erupted at 12:45 p.m., just west of the Golden State Freeway near Barringer Road.

Late Monday night, the fire was 75% contained and no homes were in danger.

Earlier, the fire destroyed an uninhabited two-story house in Sloan Canyon that was slated for remodeling. County, city and federal firefighters, backed by nine water-dropping helicopters, kept the flames clear of other homes, Fire Inspector Ed Martinez said.

“The recipe is ripe for a fire,” he said, citing the 8- to 10-mph winds, dry brush and timber, and temperatures in the 90s with low humidity.

As black and white smoke filled the sky, families packed photos, insurance and tax documents, and other valuables in cardboard boxes and waited for firefighters to tell them whether to evacuate.

“When it comes down here, we’re ready to go,” said Royal Road resident Ginger De La Torre, who was with her two children. They were watching the fire head east toward their home.

Soon after she heard about the fire about 2 p.m., Donna Bruhn rushed from her Valencia home to her parents’ 80-acre horse ranch in Sloan Canyon. They were on vacation.

When she arrived, she saw deer and foxes milling about the front lawn, driven from the burning hillside. She and a friend, Joan Hassler, cleared brush around the house and stuffed boxes with tax documents, wall hangings and even the wedding dress Bruhn’s mother wore 62 years ago.

Several miles to the east, Michael Turbyfill, 39, saw the fire and turned on the sprinkler system for his home and others in the subdivision “just to wet everything down.”

Lois Pellerin, 82, watched the “live, angry flames” from an overlook near the freeway. “It’s not just the homes but the little animals” that are in danger, she said.

County animal control officers worked to save domestic and wild animals from the fire.

Evacuation posts were set up at a Castaic recreation center and elementary school.

“This is probably one of the worst [fires] in a while as far as potential goes,” Fire Inspector Edward Osorio said.

To view the L.A. Times online article, click here.

As Smokey the Bear says,
“Only You…can prevent forest fires!”

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