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A wind-fueled brush fire scorched at least 5,000 acres with 5 percent containment in the Santa Clarita area Tuesday, prompting evacuations of schools and 1,300 homes.
A stretch of the 5 Freeway reopened in both directions before 2:30 p.m. after being shut down for several hours as a precaution. However, westbound lanes of State Route 126 from Copperhill Drive to the 5 Freeway remained closed.
The blaze was reported about 9:30 a.m. in the 25000 block of Rye Canyon Loop, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The so-called Rye Fire was burning in light to medium fuels amid heavy winds, adding to two other large wildfires burning simultaneously in Southern California.
As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Rye fire had not reached Simi Valley, but it had breached the Ventura County line.
These locations have been evacuated:
- Rancho Pico Junior High School, West Ranch High School and Oak Hills Elementary School. Students were being bused to College of the Canyons. A general evacuation center was set up at Valencia High School
- West Creek Academy was closed for the remainder of the day and Trinity Classical Academy in Valencia was evacuating students
- Valencia Travel Village RV park in the 27900 block of Henry Mayo Drive in Castaic
- Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School in Castaic
- Rye Canyon Loop and Kelly Johnson Parkway in Santa Clarita
- The Westridge housing community
Evacuees of the Westridge area of Stevenson Ranch were allowed to return home before 6 p.m., city officials said. Eastbound lanes of Newhall Ranch Road remained closed.
All classes starting at 5 p.m. or later at both campuses of College of the Canyons were canceled.
About 500 firefighters were battling the blaze. No injuries were immediately reported.
Power was interrupted to 2,090 customers in the Santa Clarita area, according to Southern California Edison. Due to the outages, and some 9-1-1 calls to the sheriff's Santa Clarita station were being re-routed, the sheriff's department reported.
City officials said workers had cleared about 46 trees that were toppled by strong winds.
Police asked Simi Valley residents to be ready to evacuate if the fire spreads southwest.
Earlier in the day, the northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway were closed at Magic Mountain Parkway while southbound lanes were closed at Hasley Canyon Road.