By Rylee Holwager, Trevor Morgan and Caleb Lunetta
Signal Staff Writers
The Route Fire in Castaic had burned 5,208 acres and was 56% contained as of Friday evening, with 512 personnel remaining on the scene, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Two structures have been destroyed, 550 structures have been threatened and seven firefighters have been injured. The two structures destroyed were a single-family home and the Warped Paintball Park.
On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. all evacuations orders were lifted, which had previously been in place for Old Ridge Route between Northlake Hills Elementary School and Templin Highway.
On Thursday, Superintendent Steve Doyle, of the Castaic Union School District, issued a statement announcing that Northlake Hills Elementary would be closed through Friday.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding during this scary fire situation. Our staff was amazing yesterday in remaining calm and ensuring the safety of all of our students and families. It has been a very difficult 24 hours in our community,” wrote Doyle in a message to parents. “I have worked closely with Capt. (Justin) Diez of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station to keep updated as things were constantly changing.”
Doyle also noted that the school did not sustain any structural damage as the fire was not able to jump the ridge on Ridge Route Road. He noted that a fire crew spent the night at Northlake Hills to protect the school.
Regardless of the lack of damage, Doyle wrote that an odor from the smoke was enough to extend the Labor Day weekend break.
“While the exterior of Northlake was not touched, inside there is a strong smoke odor. We have made the decision to keep Northlake closed (Friday) to allow us to bring a fire restoration company in (Friday) and over the weekend to reduce the smoke odor,” wrote Doyle. “All of the air conditioning units were shut down (Wednesday) when the school was evacuated but the smoke has still permeated the front office, MPR and multiple classrooms… We do apologize and recognize that this does create difficulty for many of you. Our priority is to work diligently to get the school ready for Tuesday. We ask for kindness and compassion with each other in these trying times.”
West Ranch High School has been closed as an evacuation site. The Castaic Animal Care Shelter (31044 Charlie Canyon Road) remains open to provide shelter for animals in need.
For those requiring assistance, contact Red Cross Los Angeles at 1-800-RED-CROSS.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Ewald, as of Friday afternoon.
The Fire Department released an incident update Friday afternoon that detailed the expectations that the firefighters would face later on in the day.
“Today ground resources will continue mopping up hot spots 300 feet in from containment lines in the early morning hours, getting most of the hard work done before the mid-day heat,” detailed the incident report.
The report cites the current weather conditions of the valley to be the biggest concern for further containment progress of the fire.
“Excessive heat, low humidity and steep terrain will continue to pose the biggest challenge for firefighters,” the report said. “Forecasted winds of 6-12 mph with gusts up to 20 mph out of the northwest has the potential to increase fire growth around the perimeter of the fire.”
The goal for the Fire Department for Friday was to hold the fire west of Castaic Lake, east of Palumas Canyon, south of Fall Creek and north of Lake Hughes Road.
The expected end containment for the Route Fire is expected Wednesday, as of Friday afternoon.
Ridge Route Road has been reopened only to residents. An ID check will be in place.
Interstate 5, between Lake Hughes Road and Templin Highway, northbound has two lanes closed and all southbound lanes have opened, as of Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department stated on its Twitter page that Castaic Lake would be temporarily closed for the day. On Castaic Lake’s official website, it states that the lake will be closed until further notice, as of Friday afternoon.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.