Rye Fire heads west toward Simi Valley, residents urged to be alert

ByJovana Lara and ABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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A fast-moving brush fire erupted in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, prompting home and school evacuations. It then moved west toward Simi Valley, causing residents to be cautious.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A fast-moving brush fire erupted in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, prompting home and school evacuations.

The second-alarm fire, dubbed the Rye Fire, broke out around 9:30 a.m. near the 25000 block of Rye Canyon Loop. The blaze had charred approximately 200 acres by 10:45 a.m. and exploded to 5,000 acres by 3:15 p.m. Los Angeles County fire officials said containment is at 5 percent.

The fire was burning north of Newhall Ranch Road and west of the 5 Freeway. At least 500 firefighters were battling the blaze.

Both directions of the 5 Freeway were temporarily shut down at State Route 126 due to the expanding blaze. The freeway reopened by 2 p.m., the city tweeted. The northbound 5 connectors to the eastbound and westbound 126 remained closed.

All of Rye Canyon Loop to Kelly Johnson Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road from Copperhill Drive to the 5 Freeway were also closed. The California Highway Patrol said the closures would last an unknown duration.

Citrus Street in Valencia was partially closed from Magic Mountain Parkway to Valencia Boulevard so that fire officials could move their incident command to the area. Businesses in the area were still accessible.

Evacuation orders were underway for residents along Rye Canyon Loop. West Ranch High School, Rancho Pico Middle School and Oak Hills Elementary School were being evacuated to the College of the Canyons cafeteria, located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Santa Clarita.

All classes starting at 5 p.m. and later at College of the Canyons were canceled Tuesday night at both campus, school officials said.

An evacuation center was set up in Santa Clarita at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway in the Sycamore Room A. Centers were also in place in Pacoima and Sylmar, near another large brush fire. The Pacoima address was listed as13306 Branford Street. The Sylmar address was listed as 13109 Borden Avenue.

A power outage in the area is also a result of the fire, according to Santa Clarita sheriff's officials. Calls regarding the outage led to the station's 911 system to be down. Officials said calls were being rerouted but asked residents to remain patient.

The Rye Fire broke out as firefighters were already battling two large brush fires -- the Thomas Fire in Ventura County and the Creek Fire near Sylmar.

Gov. Jerry Brown also declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County, which included this fire and the Creek Fire. FEMA also allowed the use of federal funds to help in the fire battle.

The fierce Santa Ana winds are making the firefight difficult. The blustery conditions were expected to last through Thursday.

Authorities said that Simi Valley residents should be alert as the fire moves west toward the city. As of 6 p.m., there was no threat to the city.

Because of the poor air quality, the Simi Valley Unified School District announced all schools and offices would be closed Wednesday.