A portion of the Foothill (210) Freeway closed for more than two days by the massive La Tuna Fire was reopened Sunday, while a brief downpour, cooler temperatures and a heavy bank of clouds today helped firefighters battling the record-setting blaze.
However, strong winds associated with the leftovers of a tropical storm presented new challenges to crews fighting the blaze, which has grown to more than 7,000 acres, with 30 percent containment, authorities said.
"There are still embers that are smoldering and these strong winds could move those embers and help them to reignite. So we've turned a corner today, but this is still not over," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a briefing that included Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger and the mayors of Burbank and Glendale.
Garcetti welcomed a state of emergency declared Sunday in Los Angeles County by Gov. Jerry Brown, saying the decision placed the blaze at the highest priority and would bring new resources to fighting it.
Barger told reporters the county would issue its state of emergency on Tuesday, after the holiday.
The 210 Freeway remained closed for most of a third day, until officials reassessed the situation and reopened it as of 6 p.m.
Once again heavy smoke blew across the San Fernando Valley Sunday creating an unhealthy air quality situation, especially for people with breathing disorders such as asthma.
It also was announced that mandatory evacuations have been lifted by the cities of Burbank and Glendale, as well as in Los Angeles.
There were 1,061 firefighters battling what the mayor had called the biggest brush fire in the city of Los Angeles history, as crews worked for the third day on pockets of unburned brush churning through the northern end of the Verdugo Mountains. The estimate of burned acres increased.
Flames on Saturday and overnight filled in unburned areas lying between the fire lines and the center of the blaze, according to maps released by the fire department.
Garcetti also said there were 9 aircraft fighting the fire and that only 10 people from the City of Los Angeles had found shelter in the public shelters. He said that an estimated 90 percent of the 1,400 who actually evacuated have returned to their homes and he expected that would rise to 100 percent by Monday.
The maps showed fire activity on the western flank, near the Villa Cabrini condominium complex, a large development north of Burbank Airport. Fire activity was also concentrated above the eastern end of Roscoe Boulevard, and more fire above the Morning Glow subdivision in La Tuna Canyon.
'There is (still) a lot of fuel out there left to burn,' Terrazas said during the 10 a.m. news conference at Hansen Dam in Lake View Terrace. At that point the fire remained at 10 percent contained with the effort of 206 engine companies, nine helicopters, five water tenders, four bulldozers, 12 hand crews and nine ambulances. It would rise to 15 percent contained by Sunday afternoon and 30 percent Sunday night, according to the unified fire command.
But the biggest concern in battling the blaze still remains the weather, he said.
"In terms of weather, that is our number one concern. Today and the rest of the week, we believe that the weather will become more favorable. Today we're looking at moderate heat impact, isolated thunderstorms with a very slight chance of showers, temperatures 90 and 94 degrees.
"Winds with three to four miles per hour with gusts at 12 (miles per hour) and that can change at a moment's notice and the wind can accelerate very quickly,' Terrazas said.
There were two firefighters taken to hospitals during the second day of the fire for heat-related illnesses. Their conditions were stable, he said. A total of four firefighters were treated, three for heat-related illnesses and one for burns.
Three homes have been destroyed and one was damaged. "We believe two of three had no brush clearance,' Terrazas said. "So I can't emphasize enough the importance of a minimum -- within L.A. city -- a minimum of 200 feet brush clearance, that's brush from your home. If there is no defensive space we cannot protect your house.
Mandatory evacuations in the city of Los Angeles remain in the McGroarty Park area, from McGroarty Terrace to Valaho Place, Wornom South of Sunland, and Morning Glow, South of La Tune.
In Glendale, in the Glenoaks area, at the end of Boston Avenue, El Lado Drive, Cedarbend Drive, Tanbark Place, Ferntree Place, Beechglen Drive, New York Avenue, and at Mountain Oaks Parks, Celita Way and Kadletz Road.
In Burbank, mandatory evacuation orders were up at midday for Castleman Lane, Wedgewood Lane, Kildare Court, Folkstone Court and Logan Court. Burbank police had also closed Joaquin and Haven; Bel Aire and Vista Ridge; Scott Road and Haven; Bel Aire and Amherst; Bel Aire and Cambridge; Groton and Stephen; Sunset Canyon and Walnut; Sunset Canyon and Harvard Road; Country Club and Walnut, and Keystone and Lamer.
McCambridge Park Recreational Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., was the designated evacuation center, Green said.
Mandatory evacuations in Glendale were at Glenwood Oaks and Mountain Oaks, with voluntary evacuations at Whiting Woods and Oakmont Woods would be ended by 6 p.m., it was announced Sunday afternoon.
Glendale's evacuation center was at Crescenta Valley High School, 2900 Community Ave., where pets are welcome and Pasadena Humane Society has set up at the location. No new evacuations have been ordered in Glendale.
In the Los Angeles, mandatory evacuations were in the McGroarty Park area, from McGroarty to Valaho in Tujunga and in Sunland at Wormon and Sunland. Evacuees were told to find shelter at Sunland Park, 8651 Foothill Blvd.
Voluntary evacuations in Tujunga were at Aileen and Hilllhaven, and McGroarty, from Oro Vista to Plainview.
Voluntary evacuations in the Revierier area were at Alene Drive to Hillhaven Avenue, Reverier, Glen O Peace Parkway, Tranquil Drive, Inspiration Way, Tranquil Place and Hillhaven Place.
Voluntary evacuations in the Haines Canyon Area were at Charrick Drive, Charrick Place, Estepa Drive, Wexlord Drive (Tujunga).
And in Sunland, voluntary evacuations were at Shadow Island Drive and Wormon Avenue south of Sunland.