While some Santa Clarita Valley residents remain without power due to wind concerns, county fire officials are closely watching the Saddleridge brush fire, which has left one dead, burned close to 5,000 acres but remained south of local firefighters’ primary concern area, as of about noon Friday.
And while the fire is not directly affecting or endangering local residents as of noon on Friday, the wind-blown blaze has far reaching effects being felt in the SCV.
“It is just kind of sitting in an area near the (Interstate) 210, (northbound lanes of Interstate) 5 and (the northbound lanes of Highway 14). If you can imagine, it’s making that little crescent shape; it has not moved from there,” said Maria Grycan, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in reference to the Saddleridge Fire.
Grycan said she wanted to emphasize that despite some media reports, the fire had not crossed over Highway 14.
“There is currently no threat to Santa Clarita,” said Grycan at 9:40 a.m. “We have resources on the scene where the fire is and they’re monitoring it very closely. If it takes off, if it does something, we will attack it appropriately.”
There are two SuperScoopers, a Sky Crane, multiple helicopters and fixed wing aircraft assisting with the wind-blown blaze, according to Grycan.
Los Angeles City Fire Department is reporting as of 9:45 a.m. 25 structures are damaged, there is 0% containment and no structures have been damaged or destroyed in Los Angeles County jurisdiction.
The only jurisdictions in Los Angeles County as of this morning being evacuated are Twin Lakes, Browns Canyon and the Indian Springs/Indian Falls estates.
And as firefighters headed out, students were told to stay in. Early Friday morning, all five of the major school districts informed parents they would not be opening for the day out of concern of power outages, fire danger and road closures.
The Saugus Union School District, as well as some other districts, had had their early childhood development programs open early in the morning, but those were subsequently closed soon after.
“It’s in the best interest of keeping kids safe, the sheriff has asked us all to stay off the roads and we wanted to send our employees home,” said SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins. “We closed the whole district office and all of the campuses.
Colleen Rosales, a Val Verde resident with two students in the Castaic Union School District, said she was not happy nor unhappy that the schools were closed.
“I actually work as a contractor for the Hart District,” said Rosales. “For me personally, it worked out fine because I can’t work today anyways because the Hart District schools are also closed.”
But despite many being forced to stay home from work due to the impacts on Santa Clarita, not everyone in the Rosales family had the day off work.
“Once we found out school was canceled we didn’t even try to go anywhere, but my husband is based in the (San Fernando) Valley,” said Rosales. “He tried to go out this morning, and he had heard about the closures and tried taking CA-126. And he said he got a certain distance and he said, there’s no way. He didn’t even try to take the I-5 or the CA-101.”
Officials had no choice but to shut down the schools, roads and freeways, Rosales said.
“I don’t think they had much choice because I don’t even know how many substitute teachers they would’ve had to call in … I know all their teachers aren’t local. And even if they called subs, I don’t even know if they could’ve gotten in,” said Rosales. “I totally understand why … it’s not the schools, it’s the roads.”
And even with the roads and freeways, Rosales said she understood closing them down because of the element of safety.
“They have to have the availability for the emergency vehicles to get through,” said Rosales. “I’m just really grateful there’s no local fires we have to deal with directly, so we’re just happy to be looking at clear skies. That’s the upside.”
Despite power losses, road closures and fire danger, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is keeping its lights on, according to Patrick Moody, a spokesman for the hospital.
“We have not lost power here, but if we do, we have backup generators that kick-in immediately … we’re operating as usual,” Moody said.
Henry Mayo has also set up an Emergency Operations Center, but that program is mostly monitoring events, and has not yet been asked to assist.
“If we are asked to help, of course, we will,” said Moody.
As residents in the Shadow Pines area of Canyon Country approach 24 hours without power, with no sense of when it will return, many already have started to do what they can to make due.
A number of RVs and trailers can be seen while driving through the area, while residents work to move food from their house fridges into their vehicles.
The winds remain strong, and many houses have debris collecting as Thursday’s winds knocked many of the trash cans that had been put onto the street to be collected down, carrying the debris across the street.
Shirley Duarte and David Aguilar have four young children, including a four-month-old. With the power out, they had to borrow a generator to keep their two fridges full of food from going bad and slept all together in one room.
When the power went out, the family called Edison, who they said initially told them “something must have happened,” Duarte said, adding that out of the six or seven designated shut-off areas, they were not one of them.
“They said it’s too dangerous to send crews to go fix it,” Aguilar added.
On a second call to Edison, they were told that their outage was in fact part of the planned outages and there was no estimated time of when it would come back on.
“The third time I called back last night, they told us that the city of Santa Clarita officials designated your area to be shut off, and they’ll turn it back on when (the city) tells us to turn it back on,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar then called city hall and spoke to the city manager, who denied that. “She called back and said she spoke to Edison who told her it was their decision.”
“I don’t understand why our power is off,” Aguliar said. “We weren’t a designated area, but we lost power. We’re in an area where all the power lines are underground and transformers are on the ground. Driving up Shadow Pines, there’s electricity on the east side, but none on the west. What makes this even more frustrating is we weren’t given any prior notification.”
Emily Alvarenga contributed to this report.