A Southern California community fire increased in size and strength significantly on Sunday, causing thousands of residents to flee their homes due to the risk of being burned down as authorities announced a mandatory evacuation order.
On Sunday, Los Angeles County officials searched for a potential arsonist that they believe is responsible for starting the wildfire. The blaze nearly doubled in size due to powerful winds and warm weather in the Pacific Palisades area near Topanga Canyon.
After 1:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, firefighters reported zero containment of the fire as moist conditions kept the fire to around 750 acres overnight. The Los Angeles Fire Department said winds could push to fire northwest on Sunday, threatening homes in the area.
Topanga Canyon is located about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and is a remote, wooded community with some ranch homes. Ventura County deployed at least one water-dropping helicopter to help in containing the massive wildfire. Firefighters were dispatched from the county on Sunday afternoon to assist with the blaze.
The fire department said the cause of the fire had the potential to be a manually started fire and is currently investigating the scene. Witnesses reported a possible arson suspect on Saturday near the area. However, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was not able to locate anyone.
Firefighters looked on as aerial support battled the fire as huge plumes of smoke rose over the mountains. “Dozers are working to improve access for firefighters on the ground, but much of the area remains inaccessible. This is primarily an air-based operation with both fixed-wing and rotary (helicopters) working together,” LAFD spokesperson Margaret Steward said.
“The weather remained cool and moist overnight which led to calmer fire activity. However, as it warms up today, the conditions are expected to change as the vegetation in this area is very dry and has not burned in 50+ years,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said, USA Today reported.