Master’s University evacuated as brush fire nears campus

Hand crews deploy to battle flames near a homeless encampment near Race Street and 4th Street in Newhall. Dan Watson/The Signal

Fire suspected to have originated from a homeless camp moved too close to homes and The Master’s University Wednesday, sparking an evacuation of the entire campus.

By the end of the day, only 5 acres of brush burned with no one hurt and no structures affected.

The fire, officially dubbed the 2nd Street Incident, began at 12:55 p.m., when firefighters responded to reports of flames and smoke seen coming from the Santa Clara River wash in Newhall.

Firefighters were able to extinguish flames with the help of emergency responders on the ground and water drops from above. Dan Watson / The Signal.

Firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department raced to an area near the wash near 2nd Street and Race Street.

“The fire was reported in the wash, with smoke and flames,” Fire Department spokeswoman Vanessa Lozano said. “It’s a half-acre moving through light to medium fuel.”

A steady wind pushed that fire toward The Master’s University and by 1:22 p.m. was 5 acres and threatening homes near the campus.

At 1:30 p.m. the threat of structures being affected by the fire prompted a call to evacuate the campus.

Campus security personnel began evacuating dorms, according to one security official at the scene.

Hand crews battle flames near a homeless encampment near 4th Street and Race Street at Newhall Fire. Dan Watson/The Signal

The fire never moved beyond the 5 acres burned early in its development.

At 1:40 p.m., Fire Department spokesman Sky Cornell said: “Seems like we’re getting a handle on it.”

“The structures are far enough away,” Cornell said. “We did have evacuations at the Master’s (University) college as a precaution.”

And, although firefighters had effectively stopped all forward advance of the fire, concern for university buildings and nearby homes convinced fire officials to maintain a healthy complement of fire resources at the scene.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter dumps water on the fire near The Master’s University on Wednesday. Caleb Lunetta/The Signal

From 2 p.m. on, campus officials simply waited for word from fire officials to lift the evacuation order and allow people back into their dorms and offices.

“We’re still here, waiting for word from the Fire Department,” university spokeswoman Keylin Portillo said.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the fire was officially contained to 90%.

“We’re going to be monitoring the site throughout the night,” Fire Department Supervisor Cheryl Sims said at 6 p.m.

Here’s a timeline of what transpired throughout the day:

2:32 p.m.

Fire was reportedly stopped at 5 acres with no structures affected, Fire Department officials reported shortly before 2 p.m.

“They did say they were keeping all resources there,” Fire Department spokesman Austin Bennett said.

No injuries or patients were reported.

2:02 p.m.

Officials at The Master’s University are awaiting for word from fire officials for the evacuation to be lifted.

“We’re still here, waiting for word from the Fire Department,” Keylin Portillo, spokeswoman for the university.

Several firefighting units were “released” from the scene.

The fire burned close to The Master’s University, resulting in an evacuation of the campus. Dan Watson / The Signal

1:40 p.m.

“Seems like we’re getting a handle on it,” Sky Cornell, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

Firefighters reported 4 acres have burned and that no structures are expected to catch fire.

“The structures are far enough away,” Cornell said. “We did have evacuations at Masters (University) college as a precaution.”

Hand crews deploy to battle flames near a homeless encampment near Race Street and 4th Street in Newhall. Dan Watson/The Signal

1:30 p.m.

Evacuations are underway at Masters University as a brush fire – suspected to be the result of a homeless encampment – began burning university owned property.

Campus security personnel began evacuating dorms, according to one security official at the scene.

A pot still sits on the e grill at a homeless encampment at Newhall Fire. Dan Watson/The Signal

1:22 p.m.

Firefigters reported fire now five acres with several fire engines placed on structure protection for Masters University and near by homes.

Firefighters responded to a brush fire with flames and smoke shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Santa Clara River wash in Newhall.

At 12:55 p.m., firefighters with the Los Angeles County Fire Department raced to an area near the wash near 2nd Street and Race Street.

“We are en route,” Fire Department spokeswoman Vanessa Lozano said.

“The fire was reported in the wash, with smoke and flames,” she said. “It’s a half-acre moving through light to medium fuel.”


With files from Caleb Luneta and Tammy Murga, Signal Staff Writers.

[email protected]

661-287-5527

On Twitter @jamesarthurholt

Advertisement