Hundreds of firefighters, combined with a massive air attack, were able to contain a fast-moving brush fire in Glendale Friday just hours after it was reported.
With the aid of several water-dropping helicopters, more than 200 firefighters were able to prevent the roughly 75-acre blaze from damaging any structures. No civilians were reported injured despite television footage that showed people fleeing flames whipping from nearby sidewalks.
Two firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion.
Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins attributed the outcome to an “aggressive and coordinated attack between the helicopters, hand crews and engine companies providing structural protection up and down the canyon.”
The fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. near the Glendale (2) and Ventura (134) freeways. From its ignition point, wind-spread embers started flare-ups in Glenoaks and Chevy Chase canyons. Within minutes, the flames started tearing through tinder-dry brush, prompting evacuations of hundreds of homes and Glenoaks Elementary School.
One of the streets affected by the evacuation orders was Solway Street, where Vera Souma, 37, owns a home.
The home’s tenants called her husband as the fire took hold to let him know they were safe.
“As long as our tenants are out, we’re fine,” Souma said.
Others watched nervously as helicopters flew back and forth making water-drops and hand crews worked to put out hot spots.
Chris Dy, 21, said his Lilac Lane home was “really, really close to the fire,” but located across the hill so his family didn’t plan to evacuate.
“We’re just hosing down the grass,” he said.
Though firefighters from Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Los Angeles city and county and the U.S. Forest Service were able to stop the spread of the fire within a couple hours, evacuation orders remained in place into the evening as they worked to put out hotspots.
Several families were using an evacuation center set up at the Adult Recreation Center on Broadway.
“All the hillside was on fire, it was horrifying,” said Caroline Blackburn, who lives on the 2300 block of Chevy Chase Drive.
After getting stuck in traffic, she was able to retrieve her dogs after catching a ride with a stranger who was within the evacuation zone.
“I said ‘Thank you so much, you are my angel,’” Blackburn said of the Good Samaritan.
The evacuation order was in effect until shortly after 9 p.m.
Scoggins said firefighters would be working throughout the night to stamp out the blaze.
“Our firefighters work 24-7 and will keep working until the fire is out,” he said.
With the fire appearing to be under control, attention among city officials was turning to the forecast for a 20% chance of rain on Sunday and then a 50% chance on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
With the vegetation in nearby hillsides now stripped away by the fire, City Manager Scott Ochoa said he had ordered concrete barriers, known as K-rails, be prepared in case they’re needed.
“We have to be planning ahead for all sorts of incidents,” he said. “Today, it’s fire, tomorrow it could be mudslides.”
Staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.