Some of the 40,000 residents living in the eastern Santa Clarita Valley who fled the fast-spreading flames of the Tick Fire since Thursday afternoon were allowed to return home just more than 24 hours later, fire officials announced Friday.
“This is the largest evacuation that we’ve had in Santa Clarita,” Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district covers the Santa Clarita Valley, said during a press conference Friday morning. “This is being done to make sure that we protect not only life but property and also our firefighters and first responders to get up there and fight these fires.”
Multiple homes were destroyed by the fire, but it was not yet known by Friday evening how many.
By 5 p.m., L.A. County Fire Department officials said the repopulation areas included:
- Between Whites Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, south of Plum Canyon Road and north of Soledad Canyon Road.
- Everything south of Fire Station 132, located at 29310 Sand Canyon Road, to Placerita Canyon Road.
- At 6 p.m. repopulation was to be allowed along Sierra Highway at Linda Vista Street.
- Other areas were to remain under mandatory evacuations until further notice.
Barger reminded those planning to return home that danger, such as damaged utilities, exposed burnout structures and fire ashes, still exists.
“So, please make sure you either use gloves and have eye protection and N95-rated masks because we don’t want you to get injured or have your lungs damaged,” she said.
The Tick Fire reached 4,300 acres with 5% containment by Friday at 5 p.m., according to county Deputy Fire Chief Vince Pena. He confirmed that a total of six structures were deemed damaged and two destroyed as a result of an 18-acre spot fire near Castaic Lake.
Friday night’s efforts focused on securing the north end of the blaze as firefighters expressed concern about light-to-moderate wind activity and Saturday’s expected prevailing gusts, said Pena.
Mayor Marsha McLean said residents can visit santaclaritaemergency.com for emergency updates and resource information.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation for the Tick and Kincade fires. The Kincade Fire has also prompted thousands of evacuations in Northern California.
The Tick blaze started shortly after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, quickly spreading from 200 acres to more than 850 just before 3 p.m. With high wind activity, the Tick Fire sparked a second fire near Castaic Lake and the third one in Val Verde that same afternoon.
Hundreds of firefighters remained on the line Friday protecting homes, fearing that winds would intensify the incident overnight, and additional evacuations, including all of Sand Canyon and hard closures on Highway 14, were issued as the fire leaped over the freeway.
On Friday, more than 400 families and their pets found shelter, food and medical services at College of the Canyons and West Ranch High School after initially being told they could take refuge at Golden Valley High School. They soon learned the blaze was too close to remain in the area.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
With reports from Jim Holt, Emily Alvarenga and Caleb Lunetta