Brush fire in Pacific Palisades grows; search underway for person responsible

Pacific Palisades
Posted at 6:02 PM, May 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-16 10:33:14-04

PACIFIC PALISADES (CNS) - Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect Sunday as firefighters continue to battle the 750-acre Palisades Fire and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies search for a person suspected of setting the blaze.

Meanwhile, air quality officials issued a smoke advisory Saturday due to large amounts of smoke billowing near homes in the Pacific Palisades area and advised those who smell smoke or see ash to limit exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or seeking alternate shelter and avoiding vigorous physical activity.

There was zero containment, Los Angeles Fire Department's Margaret Stewart said Saturday evening. She said there are three burn areas, "the main fire, the original fire ... and a small spot fire."

The fire ignited in a remote area off Michael Lane and Palisades Court around 10 p.m. Friday, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange.

Evacuations were ordered in two areas both in the county of Los Angeles, but not in the city, according to L.A. County fire officials.

-- Zone 4 is everyone east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard between the Community House and View Ridge Road,

-- Zone 6 is everyone north of Entrada, south of Oakwood Drive and east of the Henry Ridge Motorway.

Large animals, meanwhile, can be taken to Pierce College Equestrian Center, at 6201 Winnetka Ave. in Woodland Hills. Small animals can be taken to the Agoura Animal Care Center, 29525 Agoura Hills Road, in Agoura.

The terrain is very steep and extremely difficult to navigate, Stewart said. "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 working together."

Los Angeles County fire officials reported that after the marine layer blew in, the visibility became too poor for fixed-wing aircraft, which had been productive. Helicopters continued to make water drops and the tankers previously succeeded at dropping retardant across the Topanga Fire Road to south along the left flank.

"The state parks are closing trails in the area because it is unsafe for hikers but cannot clear everyone due to the vast area involved, Stewart said.

The flames were driven by wind gusts from the south-southwest at 15-25 mph, according to the National Weather Service. "Humidities 50% or higher, but fuels are VERY dry," the agency tweeted.

Residents in the area could see a large plume of smoke, said the Los Angeles Fire Department's Margaret Stewart.

The fire slopped over, Stewart said, "meaning the edge of the fire crossed a control line as opposed to a `spot fire' which is ahead of the fire body."

The threatened area of land to the west is within the State Responsibility Area, so the Los Angeles County Fire Department will now be involved in a Unified Command with the Los Angeles Fire Department and CAL- FIRE, she said. LAFD and LACo Fire Department water-dropping helicopters were assisted by a Ventura County chopper.

Topanga Canyon Boulevard was closed between Mulholland Drive and Pacific Coast Highway due to firefighting activity, according to Malibu Emergency Services, which noted there was no threat to Malibu at this time though the large plume of smoke was visible.

The sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau continues to search for a person suspected of setting the brush fire, said Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff's Information Bureau.

"Members of the sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau were searching for a person Saturday suspected of setting a brushfire that has now scorched about 750 acres and was flaring up in Pacific Palisades," Parra told NBC Los Angeles.

No further information was released about the suspect or the circumstances of how the fire started.