Brush fire at the site of the Porter Ranch gas leak is 85% contained

A brush fire that ignited Tuesday night at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility above Porter Ranch was 85% contained as of early Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Fire officials said they expect the fire, which grew to 23 acres overnight, to be fully contained by 8 a.m. About 100 firefighters were on scene.

The fire was reported just after 9:15 p.m. in the 12800 block of Tampa Avenue, according to Erik Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

When firefighters arrived, the fire was about three acres. By 9:45 p.m., the blaze had grown to more than 15 acres and was burning downhill, pushed by winds of 20 to 38 mph, Scott said Tuesday night.

A spokesman for Southern California Gas Co., which operates the natural gas storage facility where a damaged well spewed methane for four months in late 2015 and early 2016 and displaced thousands of residents, confirmed Tuesday night that the fire was burning at the site.

“We are cooperating with first responders, including LAFD and LAPD, as they work to keep the community safe,” spokesman Chris Gilbride said.

No structures were threatened by the fire. The flames were burning in a remote area, so helicopters were deployed for an aggressive attack.

“We’re hitting this hard and fast,” Scott said. “This location is very remote and nearly inaccessible for fire engines on the ground.”

But helicopters have been challenged by the area’s network of power lines, which make it difficult to drop water in the rugged hills, Scott said.

By 11 p.m., the firefighters at the scene appeared to gain the upper hand. Still, crews were stationed at homes to the south and west of the fire, Scott said. No damage was reported.

A preliminary investigation indicated that a downed power line may have ignited the dry brush, Scott said.

The burn area of the fire partly overlapped with that of the Sesnon fire, which charred about 22 square miles in 2008 and destroyed at least 15 homes and dozens of outbuildings. That fire was sparked by a downed power line.

The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning Tuesday afternoon that extends until Thursday night. It warned that strong, gusty winds could reach speeds of more than 50 mph.

As firefighters sought to contain the flames Tuesday, the temperature was 67 degrees and the humidity was 37%.

The weather service said that temperatures were expected to reach the 90s to the low 100s in the hottest areas Wednesday through Friday.

Twitter: @MattHjourno


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Oct 19, 5:35 a.m.: This article has been updated with information that the fire was nearly fully contained.

11:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with confirmation that the fire was burning at the Aliso Canyon storage facility.

10:55 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional details on the cause of the fire and background on the Sesnon fire.

10:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional details on the weather conditions near the fire.

10 p.m.: This article has been updated with information that the the fire has grown to 15 acres.

This article was originally published on Oct. 18 at 9:50 p.m.

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