UPDATE: Brush fire in Placerita Canyon stopped in less than an hour

A Los Angeles County firefighter pulls hose towards the Jake Fire near the top of Dockweiler Drive in Newhall Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

By Signal Staff

Firefighters stopped all forward progress of the Jake Fire in Placerita Canyon in less than an hour Wednesday afternoon, but not before nearby schools were evacuated.

At 1:43 p.m., when the fire was stopped, it had burned 9 acres — 3 acres to the south of Deputy Jake Drive and 6 acres to the north of it, said Austin Bennett, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Los Angeles County firefighters prepare to battle the Jake Fire near the top of Dockweiler Avenue in Newhall Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The fire began at 12:51 p.m. and as it neared homes and other structures was upgraded to a second alarm at 1:15 p.m., Bennett said.

Two 11-year-old girls were treated at Green Thumb Nursery for heat exhaustion.

The Jake Fire forced the evacuation and cancellation of all classes at The Masters University and the evacuation of McGrath Elementary School.

A Superscooper makes a drop as Los Angeles County firefighters battle Jake Fire on the ground near the top of Dockweiler Avenue in Newhall Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Students evacuated from McGrath Elementary initially were taken to the nearby Green Thumb Nursery, but school officials on the scene said the children are being moved to Newhall Elementary School and parents should plan to pick up their children there.

Los Angeles County firefighters prepare to battle the Jake Fire as Copter 19 makes a drop near the top of Dockweiler Avenue in Newhall Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“That building was evacuated first, along with the student center, the cafeteria, the bookstore, all of that,” said Lilly Duncan, a student at TMU. “And then they extended the evacuations throughout the rest of campus and we are all headed to North Campus right now. The RA’s and AD’s have been clearing the dorms. Everyone has been evacuated, told to walk, don’t use your cars. They have been communicating through the alert system so everyone is on the same page and they have been doing that really effectively.”

Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School students hold hands as they enter buses that transported them from Green Thumb Nursery where they evacuated to Newhall Elementary School where their parents picked them up. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

According to the official L.A. County Fire Department Twitter page, a second alarm assignment was requested and L.A. County Fire Air Operations were on the scene. 

All classes at The Masters University were cancelled for the day as a result of the fire.

Deputy Jake Way resident Chris Knez said in the commotion of evacuation: “It started right at the bottom by the school.”

“All the kids ran out of the school, then the winds blew it north and over this way,” he said.

Caleb Lunetta/The Signal

Other people who live on Deputy Jake Way couldn’t help noting how fast the fire moved.

“The fire looked like it started down by the school,” said Joel Fortner. “I know that we have a lot of vegetation over there.”

“I stepped out and saw the smoke,” he said. “It moved pretty fast. It came quick.”

What also impressed Fortner were the people who stopped it becoming another Saddleridge Fire or Tick Fire.

“I’d like to thank our firefighters,” he said.

Peter Bylsma, also of Deputy Jake Way, echoed the same sense of appreciation for the firefighters who kept it to less than 10 acres.

“They (firefighters) really showed up within seconds,” he said. 

“I mean, literally, the moment that the smoke was there, they were already up the street,” Bylsma said, reflecting on the firefighters.

He had one thing to say about them: “Courageous.”

“The flames were leaping up,” he said. “You could see them from my place.”

“Look at how much it burned so fast,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

With reports from Emily Alvarenga, Jim Holt, Matt Fernandez, Caleb Lunetta and Tammy Murga.

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