Threat Lifted, Evacuees of Massive LA Fire Return Home - NECN
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Threat Lifted, Evacuees of Massive LA Fire Return Home

"Fire operations are not over. There is still a lot of work to be done," LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Improved weather conditions are adding crews in the firefight against the massive La Tuna fire. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. (Published Monday, Sept. 4, 2017)

    There were no visible flames left in Southern California's Verdugo Mountains after what the mayor called the largest fire in Los Angeles history scorched the area over Labor Day weekend.

    As firefighters concentrated efforts on putting out embers and digging fire lines around the nearly 7,200 acres of brush that burned, the 1,400 evacuated residents were given the all-clear to return home. Containment of the fire was at 80 percent Tuesday night, up from 30 percent on Monday. 

    The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond said. 

    Except for some on- and off-ramps, Richmond said, the Foothill (210) Freeway that connects the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena was reopened after being closed Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday.

    Fire trucks remained on freeway lanes, however.

    Ten reported injuries include four firefighters. Three suffered heat-related illnesses but were in stable condition, and one suffered some slight burns.

    A volunteer Community Emergency Response Team member was medically evaluated, though the nature of the illness was not released.

    Five homes were destroyed and one was damaged by flames, along with some miscellaneous sheds, outhouses and stables, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

    "We believe two of three had no brush clearance," he said. "So I can't emphasize enough the importance of a minimum -- within L.A. city -- a minimum of 200 feet brush clearance, that's brush from your home. If there is no defensive space we cannot protect your house." 

    Mayor Eric Garcetti said that most or all of the 1,400 evacuated Los Angeles residents were expected to go home by the end of the day Monday. 

    Garcetti on Saturday had deemed the blaze "the largest fire in the history of LA city in terms of its acreage."

    Portatino said he was on the 210 Freeway Monday and saw some hot spots being put out by firefighters. He added that law enforcement would temporarily maintain its presence in the neighborhoods affected by the fire to maintain public safety.

    Both Richmond and Portatino emphasized that the weather had changed for the better overnight Sunday and the change really helped the fire crews do their work more easily and safely.

    Earlier, Terrazas told reporters that hand crews will continue to be out clearing brush and monitoring changes in the area's condition.

    "There is no active fire left," Terrazas said. "But that could change with the wind. Fire operations are not over. There is still a lot of work to be done." 

    Bulldozers were used Monday to reconstruct fire lines dug in haste when the fire broke out Saturday, he said.

    Temperatures only reached the high 80s Monday in the fire area, with winds at 3 to 10 miles per hour and a relative humidity at 40 to 45 percent.

    "The weather cooperated and we received some rain. It appears, at least for now, that the fire in the Burbank hillside has laid down significantly. We no longer have any evacuation orders in place in the City of Burbank," Burbank Police Sgt. Derek Green said.

    Garcetti welcomed a state of emergency that Gov. Jerry Brown declared in Los Angeles County Sunday, saying the decision placed the fire at the highest priority and will make new resources available to continue fighting it.

    Garcetti issued a local emergency on Saturday.

    Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told reporters the county would issue its own emergency Tuesday, after the holiday.

    There was also a drone in the area on Sunday, which Terrazas said could hinder the launch of helicopters. But the craft caused "minimal" impact, he said, adding that the object might have been in the air for at least 15 minutes before witnesses reported the sighting. Police were unable to locate a suspect, he said.

    GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help two families impacted by the fire. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges. Click the names if you would like to donate.