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SUN VALLEY (CBSLA.com) – More than 1,000 firefighters were working for a fourth day Monday to put out a 7,000-acre brushfire, as the last of the residents ordered to evacuate the record-setting blaze were expected to return to their homes authorities said.
The La Tuna Fire had burned 7,003 acres and was 30 percent contained as of 10 a.m. Monday. All mandatory evacuation orders were canceled Sunday.
At a Monday morning news conference, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said that Sunday’s rain helped firefighters considerably.
“It was a mixed blessing when it was coming down, because I felt the erratic winds that led up to the rain,” Terrazas said. “We got away with it, the moisture helped us with fire control. The wind did not cause us any challenges. So in that instance yesterday, it helped us.”
Terrazas said he anticipated the fire growing slightly over the coming days.
“There’s really no active fire left,” Terrazas said. “That can change though with the wind. Our goal today is to continue to increase our containment percentage.”
Four homes were destroyed in the blaze, which broke out at 1:25 p.m. Friday near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, just south of the 210 Freeway.
Bulldozers would be used today to reconstruct fire lines dug in haste when the fire broke out Saturday, he said.
Today’s effort to extend to the containment line around the perimeter of the fire will be done in favorable weather conditions, he said, with the temperature expected to reach a high of 86 degrees, winds at 3 to 10 miles per hour and a relative humidity at 40 to 45 percent.
And although the fire has burned 7,003 acre thus far, that number is expected to change slightly in the coming days, Terrezas said.
“Overnight, the weather cooperated and we received some rain. It appears, at least for now, that the fire in the Burbank hillside has laid down significantly. We no longer have any evacuation orders in place in the City of Burbank,” said Burbank Police Sgt. Derek Green.
All mandatory evacuations have been lifted by the cities of Burbank, Glendale and in Los Angeles, and Mayor Eric Garcetti estimated all but 10 percent of the 1,400 evacuated Los Angeles residents had returned home Sunday. The remaining relocated people were expected to go home Monday.
The 210 Freeway was reopened Sunday, connecting the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena. Fire trucks remained on freeway lanes next to the fire, however..
Garcetti welcomed a state of emergency declared in Los Angeles County by Gov. Jerry Brown, saying the decision placed the fire at the highest priority and would bring new resources to fighting it.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the scene a state emergency, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told reporters the county would issue its state of emergency Tuesday, after the holiday.
Two firefighters taken to hospitals during the second day of the fire for heat-related illnesses had stable life signs Terrazas said.
A third firefighters was treated for a heat-related illness Sunday, a fourth was treated for burns and a volunteer Community Emergency Response Team member was medically evaluated although the nature of the illness was not released.
Three homes were destroyed and one was damaged by flames, along with some miscellaneous sheds, outhouses and stables, Terrazas said.
“We believe two of three had no brush clearance,” he said. “So I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a minimum — within L.A. city — a minimum of 200 feet brush clearance, that’s brush from your home. If there is no defensive space we cannot protect your house.”
There was also a drone in the area on Sunday that caused “minimal” impact, he said, adding that the object might have been in the air for at least 15 minutes before witnessed reported the sighting. Police were unable to locate a suspect, he said.
“If a drone is the air, we cannot launch or helicopters or fixed wings,” Terrazas said.
Voluntary evacuations remained only for Country Club Drive east of Sunset Canyon in Burbank.
Evacuation centers remained open at Sunland Park, 8651 Foothill Blvd., in the city of Los Angeles; at the McCambridge Park Recreational Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Boulevard. in Burbank; and at the Crescenta Valley High School, 2900 Community Ave. in the Montrose neighborhood in Glendale.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, authorities said.
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