21,000 acres (more than 32 square miles) have burnt in wildfires across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in the past 3 days. The initial fire broke out “just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday on the north side of the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway”, in the north-western end of the San Fernando Valley.
By that evening the sky was a deep shade of pink and orange as the sun set and the smell of smoke had drifted across the San Fernando Valley.
Skies are gray today, in what should be a mostly sunny day in the San Fernando Valley. As of this morning the ash had drifted across the Valley some 20 miles or more, leaving a fine layer of ash and soot on everything, including my car. Living in Southern California we learn to accept the wildfires as just another example of Mother Nature’s destruction, something we have seen all too much of in recent weeks.
As of this morning the Chatsworth area fire is 20% contained and there’s a smaller fire burning in the Burbank Hills which started yesterday. Although considered contained as of this morning, flames from the Burbank fire could still be seen burning in the hills to the east of me.
There has been some forced evacuations and some voluntary evacuation orders have also been called – an update on the evacuations was given at 10:00 am, this morning. Schools close to the area have been closed and all schools across the San Fernando Valley “have been told by the district to restrict outdoor activity because of the air pollution.”
The fire has forced closure of 118 freeway running through a north sector of the San Fernando Valley due to flames jumping the freeway, the battle is on to keep the flames from jumping the 101 freeway south of the fire ravaged area this morning.
“We’re going to be here another week at the minimum. We are going to have a lot of mop-up,” said incident commander Los Angeles County Fire Deputy Chief Mike Bryant.
Some 3,000 firefighters have been aided by airplanes and helicopters to attacked the flames and protect the ridgetop homes that sit amid the brushy hill and canyon landscape in the north-western area of the San Fernando Valley.
The Red Cross, stretched thin by Katrina and Rita have provided shelter for some 450 residents who have been evacuated. The hope is that a slight drop in temperature today to aid the firefighters in containing this huge wildfire out of control.
Word has it that the Governator will do a fly over this afternoon.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger planned to take an aerial tour of the fire zone early Friday afternoon, followed by a briefing by emergency personnel about 2:20 p.m., according to the governor’s press office.