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Forward Progress On Soledad Fire Halted, Evacuation Orders Lifted

SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) – Firefighters worked throughout the night to stop forward progress of a fast-moving 1,100-acre fire which broke out Sunday afternoon and ripped through brush between Santa Clarita and Agua Dulce, forcing the evacuation of several homes.

Forward Progress On Soledad Fire Stopped, Evacuations Still In Place
Firefighters battle the Soledad Fire burning near Santa Clarita, Calif., on July 5, 2020. (CBSLA)

The Soledad Fire broke out before 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of Agua Dulce Canyon Road and the 14 Freeway. As of 8:55 p.m. Monday the blaze had consumed 1,498 acres, was 48% contained and all evacuation orders had been lifted.

"As we move through today, crews will be focused on establishing perimeter control around the fire to ensure we do not have increased growth...the challenge is the fact that it will again be hot and dry today," L.A. County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson said at a briefing Monday morning. "Temperatures are expected to be in the mid to high 90s. And we're embracing that afternoon wind component that drove this fire yesterday."

Driven by 20 to 30 mile-per-hour winds, by 5 p.m. Sunday, it had exploded to 400 acres and forced the closure of the 14 Freeway, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

L.A. County Sheriff's deputies began evacuating homes between Agua Dulce Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads, north and east of the 14 Freeway.

"They told us when they came to evacuate us that it was within a mile, a mile-and-a-half, and all they (the fire) had to do was go over one ridge and it would be in our area," evacuee Annette Perez told CBSLA.

The fire forced about 40 people living in nine homes to evacuate. At its height, the fire was posing a potential threat to nearly 4,800 structures, the fire department said. There was no word of any injuries or damage to structures.

Forward Progress On Soledad Fire Stopped, Evacuations Still In Place
Firefighters battle the Soledad Fire burning near Santa Clarita, Calif., on July 6, 2020. (CBSLA)

The southbound lanes of the 14 Freeway were fully reopened just before 11 p.m. Sunday. Several northbound lanes remained blocked, however.

There is no word on a cause, although Los Angeles County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson confirmed investigators are looking into whether fireworks may have sparked the blaze.

"Fireworks in general, they're a huge hazard...we've been battling fires throughout the entire weekend, and even before that, just due to, not only, illegal fireworks, but the so-called safe and sane fireworks as well cause a huge hazard for us, especially when they're being set off in dry areas and those communities that are vulnerable for wildland fire," Richardson said.

About 400 firefighters were battling the blaze in rough terrain, assisted by water-dropping helicopters. Along with LACFD, the Angeles National Forest, L.A. Fire Department, CAL Fire and California Highway Patrol were taking part in the firefight.

The Red Cross established a temporary evacuation site in Palmdale, located in the Victory Outreach parking lot at 37419 25th St. East. Residents must remain in their vehicles because of the Red Cross is unable to create an evacuation center due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"We're having them initially stay in their cars, and then we'll try to find resources for them, such as hotels or other places they can stay," L.A. County Sheriff's Capt. Ronald Shaffer said. "In the meantime, they are keeping small animals with them."

Several fires were reported over the weekend amid hot, dry conditions coupled with the use of illegal fireworks. A brush fire ripped through 21 acres Sunday afternoon inside Irvine Regional Park in Orange. An illegal fireworks display in Northridge Saturday caught an apartment building on fire, destroying eight units. Two brush fires burned in the Central L.A. neighborhood of Elysian Park Saturday evening.

A brush fire that burned near the San Bernardino Mountains community of Running Springs also forced evacuations Friday.

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