As Palisades fire burns, anxious parents race to collect children from school


Near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Palisades Drive, parents walked to their cars Monday with children they had picked up early from school because of the Palisades fire, burning to the north.

Tracey Price, 45, picked up daughter Audrey, 6, and several of her classmates from Calvary Christian School even though she said school officials hadn’t given parents instructions to do so. Friends in her neighborhood had sent her photos of smoke near the campus on Palisades Drive.

“I got here as soon as I could,” she said as she packed the children into the car. Some families evacuated their homes as a precaution.


Tom Danco, 65, said he told his wife, Lynne, to evacuate when she called him that morning.

She had been walking their dog and said she could see flames several hundred yards from their home in the Palisades Highlands.

She took her dog and some important documents from their safe and left. Danco, who was nearby, headed to their house to help retrieve more items but was stopped at a roadblock on Palisades Drive.

He said he wasn’t concerned at the moment about their home, citing favorable weather conditions.

“As long as there’s not a lot of wind,” he said. “The Fire Department is really good.”

The fire had burned about 30 acres in Pacific Palisades, close to multimillion-dollar homes in a hillside neighborhood.

So far, no homes had been damaged, and no one was hurt.

Greg Philyan was hiking up Palisades Drive with his 3-year-old daughter, Alexandra, on his shoulders as a helicopter doused flames across the road.

Like other parents of students at Calvary school, he went to collect her when he saw the fire spreading.


“A lot of parents are coming, but it’s tough to get in and out,” he said. “My first concern is it’s going to come down the hill.”

Los Angeles public schools near the fire remained open Monday afternoon, though additional school police units were dispatched south of the blaze — near Palisades Charter Elementary School, Palisades Charter High School and Marquez Charter School — in case evacuations were needed, said L.A. Schools Police Sgt. Rudy Perez. The schools implemented shelter-in-place procedures and limited outdoor activities while the district monitored air quality, he said.

At Palisades Charter High School, less than two miles southeast of the fire, a number of students left school early because their families were in the evacuation zone, said Palisades High spokeswoman Ashley Austin.

The fire “was a safe distance away from the school, and the smoke was actually blowing away from us,” Austin said. “We didn’t have any evacuations.”