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Soledad fire evacuations lifted as firefighters gain upper hand

Firefighters prepare to battle the Soledad fire near Agua Dulce on Monday morning.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters continued making progress in their battle against a 1,300-acre brush fire in the Santa Clarita Valley on Monday, though officials warned that weather and wind conditions could still pose a challenge.

The Soledad fire, which broke out in the area of Soledad Canyon Road and the 14 Freeway about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, was roughly 30% contained as of 9 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

L.A. County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson said that there was “minimal visible fire” as of 9 a.m. but that there is still a risk of spread — particularly on what’s expected to be another hot, dry day.

“Don’t be fooled: There’s still a huge potential out there with the open line,” he said. “The fire could start running in any direction due to the geography, the topography of the land, as well [as] when it’s aided by wind.”

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A sign for Agua Dulce Airport lies next to the 14 Freeway near the scene of the Soledad fire.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As of Monday morning, fire officials said 4,795 structures were still considered threatened, though only about nine homes were under a formal evacuation order. All fire-related evacuations were lifted at 2 p.m.

More than 350 firefighters are battling the blaze. No injuries have been reported.

The 14 Freeway was shut down for several hours Sunday as crews worked to douse the flames. The right two northbound lanes remained blocked between Soledad Canyon and Agua Dulce Canyon Road on Monday morning.

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LA County Firefighter
L.A. County firefighters Justin Corrales, from right, Jason Torres and Capt. August Dougherty mop up hot spots along Agua Dulce Canyon Road on Monday morning.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

“As we move through today, crews will be focused on establishing perimeter control around the fire to ensure we do not have increased growth of the fire and, of course, improving those control lines that are already in place,” Richardson said.

Though the cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said it underscores the potential dangers posed by illegal fireworks — the kind that lighted up the night sky and rattled pets throughout Southern California over the Fourth of July weekend.

Despite a ban on Fourth of July fireworks displays due to the coronavirus, L.A. firefighters responded to thousands of emergency calls on Saturday.

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“I can tell you over the course of really the last couple of weeks, we’ve all seen the evidence out there of illegal fireworks throughout all our communities across the Southland,” Richardson said during a briefing Sunday. “It’s unknown how this fire started, to be very clear.”

Though most official holiday fireworks displays were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, a number of Californians staged shows of their own.

Firefighters were kept busy, too, as the L.A. city and county fire departments reported higher-than-normal call volume.

Richardson said fireworks, both illegal and those that are characterized as safe and sane, “cause a huge hazard for us, especially when they’re being set off in dry areas, in those communities that are vulnerable to wildland fire.”


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