As Southern California sweltered in triple-digit heat, a wildfire near Castaic quickly grew in size, forcing mandatory evacuations and temporarily blocking all lanes of the 5 Freeway.
The Route fire had expanded to 5,100 acres by Thursday and was 0% contained since it was initially reported just after noon along the motorway near Lake Hughes Road.
According to L.A. County Fire Inspector Craig Little, 115 U.S. Forest Service firefighters, 115 county firefighters, eight air tankers, and seven helicopters were all assigned to the incident. Wednesday night, L.A. County Fire Capt. Sheila Kelliher reported that no structures were in danger.
On the opening day of what is anticipated to be a catastrophic week-long heat wave, personnel battled hot, dry, and windy weather as the fierce fire prompted evacuations.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the evacuation orders for the area south of Northlake Hills Elementary School were canceled by Wednesday night. North of the school, south of Templin Highway (including the Paradise Ranch Estates mobile home park), east of the 5 and west of Castaic Lagoon were still under evacuation orders.
The Northlake Hills Elementary School, which is situated between Interstate 5 and Ridge Route Road, was evacuated earlier on Wednesday, but all staff members and students were reported to be safe, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The school’s principal announced that the campus would be closed on Thursday in a tweet.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Barclay estimated that between 100 and 200 residences have already been evacuated.
According to Little, eight firefighters had minor to serious heat-related injuries, with six of them being sent to a hospital.
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