UPDATE: Roads remain closed as Saddleridge Fire continues to burn; 7,542 acres, 13% containment

Fire retardant dropped on Saddleridge Fire. Signal photo, Dan Watson

UPDATE 3:10 P.M.
California Highway Patrol reopened southbound lanes of I-5 to escort drivers through the pass.  

“The southbound I-5 freeway is open,”  said CHP Officer Josh Greengard.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: The size of the Saddleridge Fire has been updated to 7,542 acres with 13% containment, according to a Fire Department news release sent out at 1:50 p.m..

There are no new evacuations at this time, the release said.

A total of 23,000 homes were under evacuation orders, and 25 structures were either damaged or destroyed, but officials did note that an assessment team was still investigating those numbers.

There has been one minor firefighter injury and one civilian fatality as a result of cardiac arrest as of 1:50 p.m.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: Los Angeles County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials have said that as of 1:20 p.m. Friday there is no current threat to the Santa Clarita Valley from the Saddleridge Fire.

“It’s not currently a threat,” said Leslie Lua, a spokeswoman from the Fire Department, at approximately 1:15 p.m. “Firefighters are in defensive mode, and they’re making sure it’s not spreading to over there.”

Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, said no evacuations were being undertaken in their jurisdiction.

“We’ve had zero evacuations (in Santa Clarita),” said Miller. “We’re very much on guard monitoring closely and staying in contact with the Fire Department, LAPD and CHP.”

Despite the lack of evacuations or threat to Santa Clarita, Miller did remind residents though that weather and fire conditions can change fast, however.

“We want residents to remain vigilant and have a plan in mind if the situation should change,” said Miller.

Josh Greenguard of the CHP Newhall office confirmed they had heard no reports of evacuations they were asked to assist with in Santa Clarita.

ORIGINAL POST: Santa Clarita Valley residents awoke Friday morning to news of one of the most destructive Santa Ana wind-swept fires in recent memory.

As of 8:30 a.m., the Saddleridge Fire is blamed for the death of one civilian who suffered cardiac arrest and died at the hospital. It has burned more than 4,700 acres and destroyed at least 25 structures, with mandatory evacuations for about 12,700 homes.

Santa Ana winds, north to south, which prompted officials at the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for Thursday and Friday, pushed the fire to the southwest across Sylmar, Granada Hills and Porter Ranch. 

The Santa Ana winds were expected to begin diminishing drastically today, Weather Specialist Keily Delerme said Friday morning.

“We are expecting the winds to decrease later in the afternoon,” she said. “The winds will be a lot weaker than they were (Thursday).”

Delerme stressed, however, that although the winds will diminish, extremely dry conditions will remain.

Shortly after 10 a.m., however, the National Weather Service extended its red flag warning until Saturday.

As a result of intense firefighting efforts, many area roadways are closed and almost all SCV schools are closed.  

Closed roads

Local roads shut down because of the fire include The Old Road from Pico Canyon Road to Sierra Highway, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

The Old Road from McBean Parkway to Pico Canyon Road remains open but only for emergency vehicles.

Interstate 5 remains closed from the 118 Freeway to Calgrove Boulevard, according to Caltrans. As well, the northbound and southbound connectors to the eastbound lanes of the 118 are closed.

With all roadways shut down through the Newhall Pass, motorists bound for Los Angeles looking for alternatives are being told by map-direction apps to traverse the mountains from Fillmore to Moorpark on Highway 23 and through the Angeles National Forest along Big Tujunga Road.

Although Highway 23 remains open, the traffic through there, as of 10 a.m., was jammed.

“It is heavily used right now,” California Highway Patrol Officer Josh Greengard said at 10 a.m.

The ANF route following Sand Canyon Road to the south through the mountains is not advised, Greengard said.

“That route was open but a couple of big rigs tried to go through it and could not get through,” he said.

The big rigs, unable to negotiate turns, are now stuck in the pass, he said.

“They can’t clear the turns and can’t get through,” Greengard said.

“If they can work from home, they should do that,” he said.

Closed services

All Metrolink trains on the Antelope Valley Line through Santa Clarita are not in service Friday.

City of Santa Clarita officials are reporting that all programming for adult sports, youth sports, aquatics and contract classes have been cancelled.

The Newhall Community Center and Canyon Country Community Center are also closed.

A special meeting of the SCV Water Agency’s board of directors scheduled for Friday afternoon has been cancelled.

All foothill league JV football games are postponed until Saturday, with specific times to be announced later.

The Valencia vs. Hart varsity football at COC, however, is expected to be played Friday night. Canyon vs. West Ranch at Valencia HS is also to be played Friday night. 

However, the Saugus versus Golden Valley game has been rescheduled to for Saturday night at Canyon beginning at 7 p.m.

Closed schools

News of many school and class closures was posted as bulletins on the website of their respective districts.

The William S. Hart Union High School District announced that all of its schools are closed Friday “due to weather, fire and transportation issues.”

All schools in the Saugus Union School District, Newhall School District and the Castaic Union School District are also closed, as are schools in the Sulphur Springs Union School District.

Both campuses of Opportunities For Learning are closed.

All classes at College of the Canyons have been cancelled for Friday.

A post on the college website reads: “All classes are cancelled due to weather, fire and transportation issues. This applies to the Valencia campus, Canyon Country campus, and all off-site locations. Updates will be posted here as necessary.”

“Athletics: All College of the Canyons athletic events, both home and away, are cancelled today. Please check with the Hart District for the status of high school athletic events scheduled on the college campus.”

The Friday production “Boys’ Life” at COC’s Performing Arts Center has been cancelled for Friday.

College staffers were advised to stay at home if they were not on campus.

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