This weekends continued heat wave fueled fires including one that destroyed some 20 homes and buildings in the hills above Goleta as tens of thousands of Southern California residents lost power and a sudden storm packed its own surprise punch: a flash flood warning.
The blaze in the hills above Goleta in Santa Barbara County gobbled up 100 acres since Friday, but firefighters had 80 percent containment by Saturday afternoon. The blaze apparently began when embers from a house fire hit dry brush.
Hundreds of firefighters spread throughout the region. Residents fled their homes in some cases. And as if the weather wasnt erratic enough, one house was struck by lightning.
In San Bernardino, a wildfire that began on Friday, July 6 was moving north and east into the San Gorgonio Wilderness on Saturday, sparing the community of Forest Falls, which was evacuated. By the afternoon, about 1,000 acres had burned, with just 5 percent containment.
Highway 38 remained closed from Bryant Street to Lake Williams Drive.
More progress was seen on the Box fire in the Devore area of the Cajon Pass; it was 50 percent contained, with 100 acres burned, on Saturday evening. All northbound lanes of the northbound 15 Freeway were scheduled to reopen by 9 p.m. The blaze was responsible for eight heat-related injuries, officials said.
In Burbank, a brush fire in the Verdugo Mountains led to mandatory evacuations for some homes above the east end of the San Fernando Valley.
No fire was too small to worry about. In Granada Hills, just an acre of vegetation burning near a golf course in the afternoon destroyed two vehicles and damaged three homes. Firefighters knocked down the blaze in a little more than an hour.
And smoke from three fires at Camp Pendleton may have alarmed some residents of San Clemente and Laguna Beach, but posed no threat to south Orange County cities, officials said.
Goleta saw the worst of it. On Saturday morning, at least, the powerful winds that sent an overnight inferno through the community disappeared, allowing firefighters to extinguish the smoldering ruins of an estimated 20 structures, including homes.
“Its really given us a good opportunity to get in there and get some work done.”
— Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni[hhmc]
The fires spread was stopped at about 100 acres or less, and teams were working on a tally of the damages. Some houses were destroyed while homes next to them were intact.
Eric Durtschi stood outside the ruins of his house, where a burned-out car stood in the driveway and kids bicycles were strewn about. He and his family had left Utah and moved in just weeks ago.
Across the street, a neighbors home was spared. The man had stayed through the night, spraying down other peoples houses.
When it started raining on the Valley fire in the San Bernardino Mountains on Saturday afternoon, evacuees were filled with hope. But firefighters knew better.
The monsoonal storm over Angelus Oaks meant unpredictable winds that could send the fire closer to populated spots. The winds could also ground aircraft, both helicopters dropping water and airplanes laying down retardant.
Lightning strikes and mudflows along Highway 38 also meant trouble.
The flames were burning north and east into the San Gorgonio Wilderness, away from Forest Falls, where the whole community was evacuated on Friday. About 1,000 acres had burned, but no structures were destroyed through Saturday afternoon.
Lightning struck a house and set it afire, however, as thunderstorms developed over the San Gorgonio Pass on Saturday. Farther north, flash flood warnings were issued for the Forest Falls area as well as the Big Pine, Wrightwood and Pinon and Phelan areas.
The National Weather Service said the heat prodded the high-pressure system that brought the rain.
Some cities, including Claremont, Pasadena and Riverside, reached triple-digit temperatures by 9 a.m.
At 1 p.m., Woodland Hills hit 111 degrees. Palm Springs had reached 114 degrees by 4 p.m., Van Nuys had a high of 109 degrees, and Riverside reached 107 degrees.
Power outages made life miserable.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said as many 32,800 customers had experienced power outages since the start of the heat storm Friday. Of those, some 20,000 had to suffer into Saturday. Outages had hit more than 18,000 Southern California Edison customers by 2 p.m.
Marcia Saunders, 85, said her Newport Beach neighborhood of 178 townhomes had been without power since 7 p.m., Friday.
To keep cool on Saturday, she and her husband, 92, headed to a gym in Corona del Mar – for the air conditioning.
“Were hydrating a lot by drinking a lot of cold water that is getting warmer from the refrigerator,” she said. “Were trying not to move a lot.”
- Heat – along with power outages – batters Southern California residents
- Evacuations lifted near 45-acre wildfire in Burbank
- Heres what we know about the fires in Goleta, San Bernardino and Camp Pendleton
- Mandatory evacuations ordered for Forest Falls due to fast-moving brush fire
- Brush fire in San Bernardino Mountains continues to grow; Forest Falls under evacuation orders
Parts of Southern California were under red flag warnings until 6 p.m., with reports of gusty onshore winds between 20 and 30 mph. Beachgoers were warned to be cautious.
The heat was expected to let up a little on Sunday. Still, the Norco Certified Farmers Market this weekend was canceled.
City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.