Brush fire damages 13 apartments at complex in Newhall

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Brush fire damages apartments in Newhall
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A brush fire burning in Newhall threatened homes and nearby apartment complexes, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said Monday.

NEWHALL, SANTA CLARITA (KABC) -- A brush fire in Newhall threatened homes and damaged nearby apartment complexes, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said Monday.

The fire was estimated to be about 10 acres. It was reported around 4:20 p.m. in the 20900 block of Via Estrella, where about 50 structures were threatened.

Footage from AIR7 HD showed the flames lapping up the back of a hillside where the Terrace Apartments complex sat. At one point it appeared part of a patio caught fire, but firefighters were nearby with hoses and quickly worked to put out that fire and keep the hillside flames at bay.

The fire then appeared to jump to brush farther up the hillside and ignited the top of one of the apartments.

Water-dropping helicopters and firefighters on the ground quickly responded to the apartment fire. Through the thick smoke, AIR7 HD captured a firefighter against the side of the building trying to put out the blaze on the roof.

Resident Al Schlicher said he was trapped in his apartment during the blaze and thought he was going to die.

"It was so hot that I couldn't get but three or four steps out of here. It was too hot for me to go down the steps and I was trapped," he said. "I opened the windows and yelled out so that they knew somebody was up here."

He had been working from home in his office when the blaze erupted. The flames blew out his window and destroyed his office.

Resident Victor Nettles ran into his apartment to save his dog after he and his partner had gotten off work and saw the fire.

"We didn't know how close it was...I ran up and I saw that the building right next to me was on fire. They wouldn't let me go in, but I kept begging and asking. So I finally ran in and was able to get Max," he said.

He said there was smoke all over and he was choking on the thick smoke after he ran from his apartment with Max in tow.

Another resident said her apartment unit was damaged. She was frantic and said two cats were inside, but she and her boyfriend were able to get them out.

"She called me in a panic that it was on fire and I ran in there and I tried to get these cats out. Luckily, I got them out. One of them bit me, but at the end of the day they're all OK. That's all that really matters right now. All that other stuff is replaceable," Steven Krekorian said.

Olympia Molina was in tears but relieved that her pets were OK. She said her bathroom was destroyed and parts of the unit were damaged.

Molina said it was also her 41st birthday. She added the cats are her daughter's pets and that she would have been devastated had they died.

Evacuations were ordered in the area and a center was set up at Golden Valley High School at 27051 Robert C. Lee Parkway, according to inspector Gustavo Medina.

Authorities said 13 apartment units total across two different complexes were damaged in the fire.

By 9 p.m., the fire was 85 percent contained. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire was unknown.