Newhall- Updated at 3:55 – A brush fire that broke out around 2p.m. in the vicinity of Interstate 5 and Calgrove Blvd. has been 100% contained. The fire burned between 15 and 20 acres. The community of Rancho La Salle was put under shelter-in-place orders from the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department, but those orders have been lifted and residents are being allowed back into the community.
The fire started just before the Calgrove exit on the northbound side of the I-5. Two northbound lanes were closed, and traffic backed up on both sides of the freeway as heavy smoke overtook the Newhall pass.
Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Bill Niccum praised all of the firefighters for their quick containment.
“Our firefighters were real quick in response, and we were comfortable with the surroundings. The residents did a great job keeping their houses clear of brush and debris, and it allowed us to do our job,” said Niccum.
Niccum said that residents had clearly dealt with fires in the area before, but their was still some concern as flames burned within 25 feet of backyards. Ken Wiseman, president of the Sheriff’s Foundation, rushed home after learning about the flames burning close to his home in Rancho La Salle. He said the fire didn’t come as close as ones in past years.
“The fire department did a great job, as they always do. In the eleven years i’ve lived in this community, we’ve seen fires that have come into each persons backyard. This fire seemed a little easier to control.”
Niccum said the fire presented more problems for the six hand crews and seven helicopters than it did for the 12 engine units on hand. Sharp ridges called razorbacks made it difficult for the hand crews to get to the top of the mountains terrain, and power lines made it hard to helicopters to maneuver in the crowded canyons. But the Los Angeles County Fire crews were aided by members of the National Forest Service, in town from Washington D.C. to participate in live burn drills at the Pitchess Detention Center.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, and Niccum said a Cause Team has been called in to investigate. The Cause Team will look determine whether or not the fire was started intentionally, although Niccum stated that the lack of a car near the spot where the fire is believed to have started is suspicious.
The fire started around 2p.m. and burned between two and four acres uncontrollably before fire crews arrived. By 3:30p.m. the fire department declared the fire 100% contained.