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

Investigators look for Jake Fire cause

Fire source investigators poked through the charred brush left by Wednesday’s Jake Fire in Placerita Canyon on Thursday, looking for what caused it, while residents remain convinced it was caused by a homeless camp.

The fire which broke out shortly after 12:50 p.m. Wednesday burned  9 acres — 3 acres to the south of Deputy Jake Drive, and 6 acres to the north of it.

Firefighters were able to stop the fire spreading within the hour, but because of its proximity to homes and schools, investigators are looking at it closely.

Fire source investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Arson & Explosives Detail were at the scene of the blackened hillside.

“We had investigators our there today,” said Lt. Sue Burakowski who heads the Arson & Explosives Detail with Sheriff’s Department.

When asked what she suspects caused the fire, she said: “I have not talked to (fire officials), yet. We’re still investigating.”

From Kirsch Court, across the ravine, is Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School which was evacuated during the short-lived fire.

Joel Fortner, who lives near Dockweiler Drive and Deputy Jake Drive, said Wednesday: “The fire looked like it started down by the school.”

Multiple residents expressed concerns about illegal encampments in the area, but officials with the Fire and Sheriff’s departments were unable to speculate as to the cause.

On the other side of the ravine is Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School, which was evacuated during the short-lived fire. Also evacuated Wednesday was The Master’s University. 

University Interim President John Stead sent out a message thanking firefighters.

His message reads: 

“As many of you saw or heard on the news yesterday, there was a potentially very dangerous fire that came extremely close to McGrath Elementary School and The Master’s University.”

“First, thank you to the faculty and staff of the two schools for their outstanding care and leadership.”

“Most of all, I would like to thank the L.A. County Fire and Sheriff’s Departments for an incredible job of knocking down this very dangerous fire with a maximum effort, which included two fixed-wing aircraft and three or four helicopters.”

“Having lived in Santa Clarita for over 40 years, I have been spoiled by the police and fire protection that we take for granted in our city. So, a gracious thanks to the men and women who keep us safe.”

With files from Emily Alvarenga, Signal Staff Writer
[email protected] 661-287-5527 On Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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