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Signal Photos


Sayre Fire still burning

SCV residents not evacuating, but wary of winds

Posted: November 16, 2008 8:21 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2008 4:30 a.m.

Chip Meyer, left, Sharon Meyer and Charlotte Miller watch as the Sayre Fire burns through the south ridge of Placerita Canyon Road Saturday afternoon.

The Sayre Fire continued to advance over the southern ridges of the Santa Clarita Valley Sunday, devouring thick chaparral and producing heavy clouds of smoke.

Throughout the weekend the 10,000-acre fire spread from the San Fernando Valley and through much of the Newhall Pass. The fire blackened the hills along Highway 14 to the area near the San Fernando Road offramp, and east along the ridgeline of the Angeles National Forest.

Smoke also billowed from the hills southeast of Towsley Canyon and the Oak Tree Gun Club Sunday afternoon.

The fire was 40 percent contained, county Fire Department Inspector Ron Haralson said Sunday night.

Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Placerita Canyon was closed to all traffic except residents and emergency vehicles, said Dep. Danny Cassese with the county Sheriff's Department.

Weakening winds kept the fire from spreading much in the Santa Clarita Valley Sunday.

"It's in a boxed area," said Stephanie English, a county fire department spokeswoman. "It's moving pretty slowly."

She said no structures were lost in the Santa Clarita Valley, no local residents were ordered to evacuate and no injuries or deaths were reported locally.

Alec Isbell, a volunteer at New Leash on Life dog rescue center, could see the flames licking the canyon walls Sunday afternoon and consulted with a fire crew on whether she should evacuate the more than 30 dogs from the rescue center.

"It really does take us two hours to evacuate effectively because of our population," she said.

As of Sunday afternoon, firefighters said she didn't have to evacuate just yet.

"It's got a strong east wind pushing it. That's what we like, rather than coming down into the houses," said Capt. Tim Karp of the county Fire Department. "It is creeping down, but creeping is really slow burning and we can easily manage that."

He said his biggest concern for Placerita Canyon residents is if the wind shifts.

"It really gets very tornado-like here," Isbell said.

A team of county, state and federal fire fighters fought the blaze with water-dropping aircraft, four-wheel-drive fire trucks and bulldozers.

Karp said the north-facing vegetation on the hillside was especially thick because it gets a lot of sun.
"It burns the best," he said.

Ron Jones, who has lived in Placerita Canyon for about three years, leaned on a white rail fence Sunday afternoon and gazed at the flames just west of the Bear Divide Picnic Area.

He likes to hike the trails through the thick chaparral and pine groves that are home to mule deer, bobcats and coyotes, he said.

"Fires are a reality in Southern California," he said. "You just got to sit and let the fire entities do their jobs and stay out of their way."


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