‘Suspicious’ Palisades Fire grows to 1,325 acres, prompts evacuations in California


LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Evacuation orders remained in place in the Santa Monica Mountains Sunday as crews continued to battle a 1,325-acre brush fire that has been deemed “suspicious.”

The Palisades Fire ignited Friday night in a remote area off Michael Lane and Palisades Court in Pacific Palisades. It remains at 0% containment.

Arson investigators with the fire department and the Los Angeles Police Department identified one individual who was detained and released. Investigators then detained a second suspect and were questioning them Sunday evening, according to a statement from fire department spokesperson Margaret Stewart.

The blaze had smoldered for much of Saturday before flaring up in the afternoon, sparking a multi-agency response from the ground and the air to contain a 100-acre fire that had swelled to 750 acres in a matter of hours.

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)

The area is peppered with affluent homes that lie just outside Topanga State Park, a destination popular for hiking and recreation.

About a thousand residents were forced to evacuate their homes east of Topanga Canyon, between the Community House and View Ridge, and north of Entrada Road, south of Oakwood and east of Henry Ridge.

By 1 p.m. Sunday, the fire had swelled to 1,325 acres, sending a huge plume of smoke and ash across nearby communities.

At 2 p.m., LAFD issued an evacuation warning for 1500 block of Chastain Parkway W, urging residents in all homes north of Chastain Parkway over to Calle Del Cielo to prepare to flee.

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)

The evacuation warning includes residents at Calle De Sarah, Calle Bellevista, and all homes west of Calle Del Cielo and Ave Ashley up to the hills.

Due to the poor air quality in the area and safety, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that Topanga Elementary Charter School will be canceling in-person instruction beginning Monday. The school will transition to full remote learning until further notice.

The firefight has been challenging. The blaze is ripping through dry vegetation that hasn’t burned in more than five decades, and ground operations have been hindered by crews having to deal with steep terrain that is difficult to navigate, according to LAFD.

The bulk of the firefighting has been air-based, with crews relying on aircraft to make drops of water and retardant, as much of the area remained inaccessible.

Fire officials said earlier that there was some concern temperatures would warm up and onshore winds could pick up and push the fire northwest, but said resources were deployed to protect structures in the area.

No structures had been damaged as of Sunday morning, and no injuries were reported.

Topanga Canyon Road remained closed between Mulholland Drive and Pacific Coast Highway Sunday, and all hiking trails in the area are also closed.

Pierce College in Woodland Hills has been chosen as a designated area for large animal evacuations, and small animals can be taken to Agoura Hills L.A. County Animal Shelter, according to the LASD Lost Hills station.

Those who have been evacuated and need help can contact the Red Cross virtual evacuation line at 323-374-3525.

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