Canyon homes evacuated as crews battle Los Angeles wildfire


A firefighting helicopter drops water on a brush fire scorching at least 100 acres in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Saturday, May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles firefighters working in rugged terrain took advantage of calmer weather early Sunday as they tried to contain a blaze that ripped through a canyon community and forced residents to flee.

No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported in the wildfire that broke out late Friday in the Santa Monica Mountains. It smoldered for much of Saturday before erupting in the afternoon. About a thousand people in the Topanga Canyon area were ordered to evacuate.

The fire had charred about 1.2 square miles (3.1 square kilometers) of brush and trees by late Saturday.

“The weather remained cool and moist overnight which led to calmer fire activity,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement Sunday morning. “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 cause of the fire near Topanga State Park has been deemed “suspicious” and is under investigation, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

There were reports of a possible arson suspect spotted in the area early Saturday, but a search by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department didn’t find anyone, Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.

Crews relied on aircraft making drops of water and retardant because “the terrain is very steep and extremely difficult to navigate which hinders ground based firefighting operations,” a fire department statement said.

Topanga Canyon is a remote, wooded community with some ranch homes about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of downtown Los Angeles, between LA and Malibu.

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