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UPDATE: Fire breaks out near Centre Pointe

Blaze blackens 5 acres; 2 schools evacuated

Posted: October 25, 2012 2:18 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2012 4:22 p.m.

A freight train makes its way past a brush fire burning in hills along Soledad Canyon Road near the Centre Pointe district of Santa Clarita on Thursday.

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One firefighter was injured and two schools evacuated Thursday after a wildfire blackened at least 5 acres of brittle brush on the Centre Pointe hills in the heart of Santa Clarita, fire officials said.

The fire shut down Soledad Canyon Road in both directions from 2 p.m. to just before 4 p.m. It was closed at Bouquet Canyon Road on the west and Golden Oak Road on the east.

Scott Johnson, a spokesman for Metrolink, said the fire forced service interruptions to and from the Santa Clarita station, leaving 147 passengers stranded at the Metrolink stations at Via Princessa and Newhall.

Metrolink resumed normal operations after the fire was extinguished around 3:05 p.m.

Thirty minutes after the fire was officially knocked down, county fire paramedics were dispatched to the fire command center to treat an injured firefighter, said Fire Department Inspector Quvondo Johnson.

The extent of his injuries was unknown, Johnson said.

A swift, concerted effort by a multi-agency response team “knocked down” the fire at 2:40 p.m., meaning it was contained and flames doused. The fire was first reported at 1:55 p.m.

“We had at least 10-foot flames on the ridge,” said Capt. Paul Peppard as he climbed down a smoking embankment on the south side of Soledad east of the main Santa Clarita Metrolink station.

“We’re clearing out the area,” he said, pointing to a line of firefighters along a ridge.

The fire, fanned by winds of about 15 mph, broke out at 1:55 p.m. at Soledad Canyon Road and Gladding Way.
“We’re looking for witnesses,” Peppard said. “We have no witnesses as of yet.”

The fire was first reported, he said, by someone on the Wittaker Bermite site.

As it moved south, it came within a football field distance of two schools, including a preschool.

“All the children have been evacuated and they are safe and sound,” said Katri Tyni, owner of Creative Years Preschool in the 21700 block of Golden Triangle Road.

Firefighters removed the approximately 60 children at the preschool, Tyni said. “I am staying back until this is all over,” she said with a laugh.”

Also evacuated was Bowman High School, said William S. Hart Union High School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

About 200 students were moved to a location in the 21400 block of Centre Pointe Parkway and the school canceled night classes, Pinsker said.

A crowd gathered in the parking lots of Babies R Us and other shopping areas in Centre Pointe to watch firefighters battle the blaze.

“We’re lucky that winds are not as bad as they could be right now,” Fire Department spokeswoman Stephanie English said from the command post. “They’re due to pick up tonight pretty significantly.”

The National Weather Service issued high wind warnings for Los Angeles County today. The service also reports that the first significant Santa Ana wind event is due to occur sometime tonight through Friday.

The weather service issue a red flag warning through 2 p.m. Saturday.

The county used “massive resources” to respond to the fire, English said. Those resources included seven fire engines, two strike teams, four choppers, two Super Scoopers and a sky crane.






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