La Tuna Canyon fire prompts mandatory evacuations in Burbank; 2,000 acres burned

A brush fire that erupted in the Verdugo Mountains Friday afternoon resulted in the mandatory evacuation of a Burbank community late that evening.

Mandatory evacuations were called for residents living in the Brace Canyon Park area.

Battalion Chief Ron Barone with the Burbank Fire Department said crews were initially able to halt the flame’s progress along the canyon’s ridgeline and toward Burbank.

But by 10:30 p.m., flames spread down the hillside.

“Things are definitely dynamic with this fire,” he said.

Burbank residents in the path of the flames are asked to head to McCambridge Recreation Center at 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd.

The fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road in the Sunland-Tujunga area and was initially estimated to be less than an acre.

The fire then grew after high winds carried embers across the Foothill (210) Freeway, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

However, with rising temperatures and windy conditions, authorities estimated the fire could potentially grow to around 2,000 acres by Friday night.

That prediction came to pass by 9:30 p.m., according to Margaret Stewart, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

She said firefighters are dealing with 40 mph winds and flames reaching 100 feet in height.

“The winds are continuing to shift, so it’s a very dynamic fire,” said Erik Scott, a spokesman for the L.A. Fire Department, earlier in the day.

The fire has remained at 10% containment since 7 p.m.

Video shared on social media showed flames alongside traffic prior to the freeway’s closure.

A large plume of smoke could be seen from miles around with ash from the fire reported to have reached Burbank and Glendale.

Authorities said around 50 homes were at risk and precautionary evacuations were called in several neighborhoods including homes along Reverie Road, Tranquil Drive and Glen O Peace Parkway in Tujunga.

Residents living in roughly 200 nearby homes were reportedly evacuated, according to the L.A. Fire Department.

Authorities initially told evacuees in that area to head to Verdugo Hills High School, but the Sunland Recreation Center at 8651 Foothill Blvd. in Sunland-Tujunga was later designated as the evacuation spot.

The Burbank Police Department also evacuated the DeBell Golf Club and initiated road closures along Sunset Canyon Drive at Walnut Avenue and Harvard Road.

As of late Friday evening, Stewart said no structures have been damaged and no one was injured as a result of the flames.

Because of the fire’s growing threat to the area, traffic on both sides of the 210 Freeway was closed at La Tuna Canyon Road, causing gridlock in the surrounding areas as commuters searched for alternate routes.

Stewart said the section of the freeway between Lowell Avenue and San Fernando Road would likely remain closed through Saturday morning.

Around 250 firefighters from the L.A. Fire Department had tackled the flames from the air and ground as of 7 p.m.

Fire crews from Glendale, Burbank, Los Angeles County and the Angeles National Forest were called in to assist with firefighting efforts.

“You got a lot of folks coming out here to hit it hard, to hit it fast and to get it controlled,” Scott said.

An unknown number of homes were threatened by the brush fire that broke out in La Tuna Canyon Friday afternoon.
(Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)

Twitter: @Andy_Truc


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11:51 p.m.: This article was updated with the location of the evacuation center in Burbank.

10:53 p.m.: This article was updated with information about evacuations in Burbank moving from voluntary to mandatory.

10:29 p.m.: This article was updated with information about the fire’s further spread into Burbank and evacuation orders.

10:18 p.m.: This article was updated with information on road closures and the fire’s encroachment onto Burbank.

10:05 p.m.: This article was updated with information on the nature of the flames and the amount of burnt acreage.

8:55 p.m.: This article was updated with information about burnt acreage.

7:30 p.m.: This article was updated with information on the fire’s partial containment.

5:29 p.m.: This article was updated with the acreage burnt and number of homes threatened by the fire.

4:46 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on road closures, evacuations and the nature of the fire.

This article was originally published at 2:40 p.m.