Fast-moving wildfire in Southern California explodes to 1,325 acres, 0% contained

A cause has not been determined but the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it was actively looking for an arson suspect.

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Monday, May 17, 2021
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Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect Sunday for residents in the Topanga community near Los Angeles as firefighters continue to battle a 1,325-acre brush fire in the Pacific Palisades.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect Sunday for residents in the western Los Angeles area as firefighters continue to battle a 1,325-acre brush fire near Pacific Palisades, and authorities search for a person suspected of setting the blaze.

The blaze, dubbed the Palisades Fire, was 0% contained as of Sunday afternoon. The blaze nearly doubled in size, from 750 acres Saturday to 1,325, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Crews responded to a remote area around 10 p.m. Friday as the fire grew to approximately 15 acres, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fight continued overnight, but by 4 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were dealing with a significant flare-up that quickly got out of hand, creating a large plume of smoke visible across Los Angeles County.

The blaze, dubbed the Palisades Fire, was 0% contained as of Sunday morning -- but a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson said updated figures were expected later in the day.

The weather remained cool and moist overnight, which created favorable conditions for fire crews. However, conditions were expected to change as the vegetation in the area is very dry and has not burned in more than 50 years, according to the LAFD PIO David Ortiz.

"We are expecting the rain to stop around noontime and fire activity to begin again," Ortiz said. "We're trying to keep it up out of the old growth, which is 50-60 years that hasn't burned. So there's a lot of dense, thick material there -- oily plants that have died out because of the drought. So that's our objective today is to try to keep it out of that and protect the communities and neighborhoods to the west of this fire because that's what's closest to it."

Around 7 p.m. Saturday, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for about 1,000 residents in the Topanga area, according to the LAFD.

It is unclear if all of the residents in the fire zone had evacuated as of Sunday morning. Ortiz said the fire was not immediately threatening homes in Zone 4 or 6, but the evacuation order was made in case additional resources need to be quickly deployed.

An evacuation center for large animals was established at the nearby Pierce College. Small animals are being taken to an L.A. County animal shelter in Agoura Hills.

Over 300 firefighters have responded to the area, with water-dropping helicopters working to contain the flames as the steep terrain made it difficult to attack from the ground.

David Ortiz with the LAFD said the fire is burning in an area that has had very little rain over the last 10 years, making for very dry vegetation to be burned. Firefighters are hoping weather conditions overnight and expected drizzle early Sunday will help their efforts against the flames.