Benedict Canyon Fire Update: Evacuations Canceled, Roads Opened, 60% Containment

By Anita Busch, Erik Pedersen

Fox11 screenshot

UPDATED with road re-openings and LAFD drone footage: The Los Angeles Fire Department has canceled its mandatory evacuations and reopened the previously closed section of Mulholland Drive between Beverly Glen and Deep Canyon to all traffic, one lane available each direction. The department also posted drone footage of the fire using infrared aerial imagery; watchi it above.

LAFD says the fire has been held to 35-40 acres and is 60% contained. No structures have been damaged, and the only injuries are two non-life threatening one to firefighters — one with heat exertion and theother with a minor burn.

The department also said today that the fire was started by a vegetation-trimming device being used for brush clearance in the 9800 block of Portola Drive.

PREVIOUSLY, June 12: The latest from the LAPD on the fire is to avoid Mullholland, Benedict Canyon and Coldwater Canyon during rush hour unless you absolutely have to be there. This after several local TV outlets are live with coverage this afternoon of a 35- to 40-acre brush fire that has been threatening homes on the east side of Benedict Canyon northwest of Beverly Hills. The fire, which is now heading north, is about 10% contained and 86 multimillion-dollar homes affected in the mandatory evacuation area.

The Beverly Hills Police Department just issued a statement at 4:55 PM saying that Benedict Canyon is closed for northbound traffic at Tower Rd. and that San Ysidro is closed at Pickfair.

No injuries have been reported, but mandatory evacuations have been ordered along the 2200 block of San Ysidro Dr. between Milboro Pl. and Beeson Dr. in the South Beverly Park area as well as from the northern boundary of Highridge Dr. down to Summitridge Dr. continuing on San Ysidro Dr. to Stan Pl. to the south, and the northern boundary of San Circle down San Ysidro Dr. to southern boundary of Peavine Dr.

At 5:30 PM, winds shifted to the north and is now headed up the canyon.

Those areas are all below Mulholland Drive and above Sunset Blvd. and is home to some celebs such as Channign Tatum, Barbara Eden, Jessica Alba, Jon Voight, Jon Lovitz, and Emmy Rossum, to name a few. Here’s the map:

At 5 PM, the Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesman said, “We are working hard to keep the flames in” a parameter. “It is moving in an eastern direction … so we do have mandatory evacuations. We do not want people in that area.” People living in homes surrounding the area need to be ready to evacuate, if necessary.

“We’re anchoring the fire — we’re flanking both sides of it. It’s moving slowly from the west to the east. It is affected homes, and that’s why we have some mandatory evacuations and some precautionary evacuations just south of that,” LA Fire Dept. Captain Eric Scott told Fox 11. “It’s slowly creeping up, but fortunately we’re at about a 10% containment and we are making progress.”

It’s being called the Portola Fire as the fire appears to have first started in a backyard on Portola Dr. about 2 PM and then spread between Portola Dr. and Yoakum Dr., went up the ridge and then lipped over it. It came close to homes in a cul de sac on Woodridge Dr. where the fire was still burning slowly as of 4 PM.

In one hour, the amount of acreage burned doubled. Five helicopters and four fixed-winged aircraft have come in to battle it.

Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles City Fire Department said that over 250 firefighters have been assigned to the fire; LA County air and ground units and strike teams from neighboring fire departments are involved.

“We have homes at risk but have been able to defend those homes,” Stewart told KTLA. “We are asking people to get their valuables and exit early,” she said. An evacuation center has been moved now to the Westwood Recreation Center.

Flames reaching 15 feet high and creeping down hillsides near several homes, but the blaze began to slow at around 3:30 PM because winds have been light. Helicopters began dropping water from the nearby (only thirty seconds by air) water source of Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Huge clouds of smoke are drifting north over to Sherman Oaks and there is heavy smoke over 101 Freeway and is likely to affect rush hour. In Chino Valley, 120 acres were burning at the same time started by car fire. No structures have been burned, but the fire is burning very fast.

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