The Palisades fire in Los Angeles, California, rose to more than 800 acres on May 1
A brush fire in an exclusive community in Southern California took effect on Sunday as about a thousand residents remained under mandatory evacuation orders, authorities said on Sunday.
Afternoon winds and warm weather helped the Palisade fire nearly double to 1325 acres with zero retention until Sunday at 1 p.m. PT, after cool and humid conditions kept it at about 750 acres overnight. A Sunday morning update from the Los Angeles Fire Department said winds could push the flames northwest – threatening homes – as it spread through dense mountain vegetation that “is very dry and hasn’t burned in 50+ years.” .
Topanga Canyon, a remote, wooded community with some ranch homes, is about 32 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, on the Malibu border.
At least one helicopter crashing into Ventura County was assisting in the shooting. A strike team of firefighters was sent to Ventura County on Sunday afternoon.
The cause of the fire was considered “suspicious” and is under investigation, the fire department said.
Arson investigators with the fire department and police identified a person who had been detained and released. Investigators then detained a second suspect and questioned them Sunday night, fire spokeswoman Margaret Stewart told the Associated Press.
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As huge puffs of smoke rose over the mountains, firefighters relied mostly on air drops to deal with the blaze, which began late Friday night due to difficulties in reaching the steep, rugged terrain.
“Bulldozers are working to improve firefighters’ access to land, but much of the area remains inaccessible,” Stewart said. “This is primarily an air operation, with fixed wings and rotary (helicopters) working together.”
“The weather remained cool and humid at night, which led to calmer firefighting,” a Los Angeles firefighter said in a statement Sunday morning. “However, as it warms up today, conditions are expected to change, as the vegetation in this area is very dry and has not burned for 50+ years.”
Air quality officials issued smoke recommendations at least on Sunday afternoon due to smoke near homes in the area, and advised those exposed to stay indoors.
By noon on Sunday, the fire had charred about 2 square miles (5.1 square kilometers) of brush and trees. Later in the day, authorities warned several dozen residents of a hilly neighborhood that they must prepare for an evacuation if the fire continues to grow. There was no limit.
Regardless of the cause of the Palisade fire, California employees and residents are preparing to 2021 the fire season after a second consecutive winter with below-average rainfall left most of the state in a drought and millions of acres of land were ready to burn.
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“The fire season in California and the West starts earlier and ends later each year,” said Cal Fire, the state agency for preventing and fighting forest fires on its website, citing climate change as the main cause. “It is estimated that the length of the fire season has increased by 75 days in the Sierra and appears to be in line with the increase in forest fires across the country.”
The fire season in 2020 set records with nearly 10,000 fires and burned 4.25 million acres – more than 4% of the country’s territory – damaging or destroying nearly 10,500 structures.
Contribution: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; Gretchen Venus, a star from Ventura County; Palm Springs Desert Sun; Associated Press
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