Hundreds of Glendale residents evacuated during the La Tuna fire

A Los Angeles fireman on La Tuna Canyon Road on Friday. The La Tuna fire placed about 400 Glendale residents under a mandatory evacuation order.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

By 11 a.m. Saturday, the Glenwood Oaks and Mountain Oaks neighborhoods in Glendale were given a mandatory evacuation order because the La Tuna fire had spread into the city limits, while a voluntary evacuation order was issued for the Whiting Woods and Oakmont Woods areas.

About 400 residents were included in the mandatory evacuation zone, and about 1,000 individuals lived in the voluntary evacuation area, according to city spokesman Tom Lorenz. There was a 99% evacuation in the mandatory areas, he said.

“The residents were extraordinarily cooperative, understanding that evacuating would help the firefighters put up an aggressive defense if the fire came any closer to homes without the distraction of people,” Lorenz said.

At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, an emergency operation center was set up at City Hall where, according to Mayor Vartan Gharpetian, officials from nearly every city department came together to discuss the severity of the fire and an immediate response.

The Civic Auditorium and Crescenta Valley High School were both originally designated as evacuation centers, but in an effort to consolidate available resources, evacuees were ordered to head only to the high school, according to city officials.

The Red Cross provided resources at that location, and representatives from the Pasadena Humane Society were on hand to help with temporary relocation of pets.

A collaboration between the Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank and L.A. County Fire departments as well as the L.A. Police Department helped contain 10% of the fire by Sunday morning, officials said.

“Many different jurisdictions came together to control and contain this fire,” Gharpetian said. “I’m very pleased with what I saw, especially from Glendale firefighters, public safety officers and everyone else involved.”

Gharpetian and Councilwoman Paula Devine also met with a few of the families at the evacuation center.

At the end of the day, we told everyone that we can replace a structure but we cannot replace a human life.

Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian

“We assured them that we’re working so that the fire doesn’t reach the residential neighborhoods,” Gharpetian said. “At the end of the day, we told everyone that we can replace a structure, but we can not replace a human life.”

David Bell, who has lived in his La Crescenta home since 1979, was in Pomona when he learned of the evacuation order.

Bell’s son Chris heard it was a voluntary evacuation and came down to the house to help his two teenage siblings — who were living in the La Crescenta home — collect pets and personal memorabilia.

By the time David Bell rushed home, the evacuation order became mandatory.

“Everybody [in the neighborhood] was one step below chaos,” David Bell said. “They all had their cars in the street throwing everything they can think of in their cars so they could leave. I could see why law enforcement asked people to evacuate, so they could avoid that chaos.”

David Bell said he stayed at his home, located at the end of Park Vista Drive, until all evacuation orders in Glendale were lifted at 6 p.m. Sunday.

During the fire on Saturday, workers at family-owned restaurant Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in Glendale were busy stuffing one of their delivery vans with dozens of boxes of food to be delivered to various evacuation sites and fire department command posts, said Betty Porto, co-owner of the local business.

“We’ve been around for so long, and we have a reputation for doing this, and we do it every time we get a chance,” Porto said, adding that her business is also helping those who were recently affected by Hurricane Harvey. “We have an obligation to give back to the community because the community gives back to us every day. Without them, we’re nothing.”

Twitter: @JeffLanda


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