US Arson suspect sought as brush fire near LA's exclusive Pacific Palisades forces evacuations
Brushfire threatens homes in Los Angeles' Pacific Palisades
The Palisades Fire flared up Saturday afternoon and quickly escalated in a region surrounded by dry brush and mountainous terrain.The Palisades Fire that started Friday night flared up Saturday afternoon and quickly escalated in a region surrounded by dry brush and mountainous terrain as ash rained down on nearby communities, creating a fireball effect against the setting sun.
Los Angeles County authorities looked Sunday for a potential arsonist who might have set off a brush fire that forced the mandatory evacuation of about 1,000 people in the exclusive Pacific Palisades area near Topanga Canyon.
Cool and wet conditions overnight helped prevent the Palisades Fire from spreading beyond the 750 acres it had reached Saturday, but the LA Fire Department said in an update Sunday morning that warming weather and afternoon winds may push the blaze northwest – threatening homes – as it rips through dense mountain vegetation that “is very dry and has not burned in 50+ years.’’
Photo Laeticia Hallyday and Jalil Lespert: Their Los Angeles Villa Threatened by Flames
© Instagram / Laeticia Hallyday Photo Laeticia Hallyday and Jalil Lespert: their Los Angeles villa threatened by the flames Saturday, May 15, on Instagram, Jalil Lespert shared a photo of the flames approaching the villa of Pacific Palisades where he just settled with Laeticia Hallyday. Between Laeticia Hallyday and Jalil Lespert, it's serious . The proof: they recently moved together. As a couple for a few months, they shared their time between France, the United States and Saint-Barthélemy.
The update said the cause of the fire was “suspicious” and under investigation.
LAFD spokesperson Margaret Stewart said a possible arson suspect was seen Saturday but eluded a search by the Sheriff’s Department.
As huge plumes of smoke rose over the mountains, firefighters relied mostly on air drops to battle the blaze – which started late Friday night and was zero contained by 10:30 a.m. Sunday – because of the difficulty in reaching the steep, rugged terrain.
“Dozers are working to improve access for firefighters on the ground, but much of the area remains inaccessible,” Stewart said. “This is primarily an air-based operation with both fixed-wing and rotary (helicopters) working together.”
Train in Iowa hauling hazardous materials derails, catches fire
Train in Iowa hauling hazardous materials derails, catches fire(Reuters) - A Union Pacific train hauling hazardous materials derailed and then caught fire in the city of Sibley, Iowa, authorities said on Sunday, leading to the evacuation of dozens of people although there were no reports of injuries or fatalities.
By late morning, the fire had stretched to 835 acres, according to a tweet by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which said, “Crews are working flare-ups toward the leading edge of the fire.”
Air quality officials issued a smoke advisory through at least Sunday afternoon because of the smoke billowing near homes in the area and advised those exposed to stay indoors.
Regardless of what caused the Palisades Fire, California officials and residents are bracing for a harsh 2021 fire season after a second consecutive winter of below-average precipitation left most of the state in drought conditions and millions of acres of terrain ready to burn.
“The fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year,” Cal Fire, the state’s wildfire prevention and fighting agency, says on its website, pointing to climate change as a major reason. “The length of fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierra and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of the forest fires across the state.”
Palisades Fire: Here's what we know about the wildfire burning in Los Angeles County and evacuations
The Palisades Fire has prompted ongoing evacuation orders and warnings in a zone about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. © Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15, 2021: The Palisades wildfire burns out of control in rugged terrain near homes above Topanga Canyon Boulevard on May 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) It's charred more than 1,320 acres since it was reported Friday and is still 0% contained, Los Angeles County fire officials said Sunday.
The 2020 fire season set records with nearly 10,000 blazes and 4.25 million acres burned – more than 4% of the state’s territory – damaging or destroying almost 10,500 structures.
Contributing: Palm Springs Desert Sun
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
More Than 73% of California Suffering Extreme Drought, 70% More Than 2020 During Record-Breaking Fires .
"This summer we're going into fire season with drier fuels than we were at this time last year," said a UCLA climate and fire scientist.For 20 years, the western U.S. has suffered drought caused by climate change, and the soil is at its driest since 1895, according to UCLA climate and fire scientist Park Williams. A year ago, 3 percent of California was in a state of extreme or exceptional drought, and 4 percent of the state ended up burning during the 2020 fires.