40-acre Granada Hills brush fire contained, caused by power tool

#HighwaterFire in Granada Hills contained, several minor injuries reported, LAFD says

A 40-acre brush fire in Granada Hills was contained in about 90 minutes Monday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. 

More than 200 firefighters by ground and air responded to the blaze in the 12300 block of Highwater Road, the fire department said on Twitter. The fire briefly threatened 10 homes on a chaparral-covered hillside, but no structures were damaged. Residents of those homes were safely evacuated.

The fire was caused by sparks from a power tool that a homeowner was using to clear brush, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

The homeowner tried to use his jacket to douse the flames, but embers scattered and the fire spread. 

A handful of responders sustained non-life-threatening injuries while battling the fire, with at least two taken to a hospital for evaluation, the Fire Department said. 

Meanwhile, a second fire near the 5 Freeway and Roxford Street in nearby Mission Hills burned two acres of grass before it was knocked down. No homes were threatened, officials said. The cause of that fires remains under investigation.

The LAFD's Operations Valley Bureau tweeted about 12:20 p.m. that city and county fire crews had mostly put out the Highwater fire and that the main concern was "ember zones" as crews worked to tamp down spot fires. The blaze was initially reported to be about 5 acres, but LAFD revised that figure downward.

Allison Walton was hosting a play group for several moms and their young children at her Granada Hills home when the Highwater fire broke out.

The group was in her backyard when the smoke seemed to be directly over her house, about a quarter mile from where the fire began.

“It was white at first, so we thought, ‘That’s a big cloud,’ ” Walton said. “Then it turned yellow, and we thought, something’s on fire.”

The moms rushed the children inside. For about 45 minutes, smoke billowed over the house, she said. Even after the fire neared containment, the campfire smell lingered.

It was windy, Walton said, but they took comfort knowing the wind was on their side, that its direction wasn’t blowing toward her house. They were also comforted by just how quickly fire crews arrived on scene.

“The kids were loving it because of all the helicopters and fire trucks going by,” Walton said.

In the house, the children played with toy fire trucks, driving them around the house, and toy planes, pretending to extinguish the fire outside, where they could hear the helicopters and sirens.

“They had real-life sound effects,” Walton said.

She said there are a lot of walking trails in the area, especially around the canyon areas and hillsides. 

Walton felt lucky the fire was extinguished quickly.

“I’m really thankful the winds were going the way they were going and that there was such a fast response,” she said. “It kind of helped us think, we need to have a plan in place.”

The National Weather Service on Monday said gusty Santa Ana winds with warm temperatures and low relative humidity would bring elevated fire danger to Southern California throughout the day.

Twitter: @haileybranson | Google+

Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

5:37 p.m.: This story was updated with information on what caused the fire, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

5:01 p.m.: This story was updated with new acreage from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

2:56 p.m.: This story was updated with news that the second fire in Mission Hills was knocked down.

2:30 p.m.: This story was updated with news that the Highwater fire is contained and that several responders suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

2:06 p.m.: This story was updated with details about the fire's impact on a play group in the neighborhood.

1:05 p.m.: This story was updated to include information about a fire in Mission Hills.

12:35 p.m.: This story was updated with information that the fire was mostly contained but crews are still working.

12:04 p.m.: This story was updated to add that the fire is 2 acres and adds detail about number of homes threatened and evacuations.

This story was originally posted at 11:47 a.m.

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