Los Angeles battles largest wildfire by acreage in city history

Updated 2017-09-05 10:00:45 Xinhua
Firefighters douse hot spots from a wildfire in the Sunland-Tujunga of Los Angeles, the United States, on Sept. 4, 2017. More than 1,000 firefighters worked for the fourth day to put out a 7,000-acre wildfire, with 30 percent containment, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong)

Firefighters douse hot spots from a wildfire in the Sunland-Tujunga of Los Angeles, the United States, on Sept. 4, 2017. More than 1,000 firefighters worked for the fourth day to put out a 7,000-acre wildfire, with 30 percent containment, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong)

Black, dusty ash covers the hillsides. The grass, shrubs and trees are burnt to scarred charcoal. Clouds of white smoke are seen from miles (kilometers) away before blowing over the valley.

A fast-moving wildfire has torn through La Tuna Canyon near Burbank, Los Angeles County in the western U.S. state of California, since this Friday, charring thousands of acres (thousands of hectares).

Governor Jerry Brown of California on Sunday issued an emergency proclamation for Los Angeles County in response to the massive wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles. It came at the urging of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said that the fire is the largest by acreage in the city's history.

At one point the fire was estimated at 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares), but later on Saturday night fire officials issued a revised estimate of about 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares).

However, strong winds presented new challenges to firefighters battling the blaze, which has grown to 7,003 acres (2,801 hectares), with 30 percent containment, according to the latest update of alerts by 8:00 pm local time Saturday (0300 GMT Sunday) of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Fire engines have rushed to the scene of massive blazes while fixed-wing airtankers and helicopters are hovering in the sky. Those aircraft continue water and retardant drops to help more than 1,000 firefighters who are battling the wildfire amid severe heatwave.

There are 206 fire engines, nine helicopters, five water tenders, four bulldozers and nine ambulances dedicated to fighting the fire, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. ( Garcetti welcomed the state of emergency declared in Los Angeles County by Brown. The mayor vowed on Saturday to direct relevant departments in the City of Los Angeles to take all necessary steps to protect life and property in the area affected by the fire and urged that state and federal assistance should be provided to the city as quickly as possible.

Local residents gave firefighters, no matter which city they are from, a warm welcome and praised them as heroes.

"Firefighters are doing their work. They are brave men. They are risking their lives for helping us," said Jim Becerra, a man in his thirties living near La Tuna Canyon Road.

Becerra was watering the lawn and shrubs beside his home, trying to cool down the temperature to prevent the outbreak of a fire nearby.

Hundreds meters away, several firefighters were dousing the hot spots on brush fire near a hillside.

"I was scared by this wildfire especially, because I live here," Becerra told Xinhua, "but I feel comfortable right now for the moment. I trust those firefighters. They are still working very hard to keep us safe."

There were two firefighters taken to hospitals during the second day of the fire for heat-related illnesses. A total of four firefighters were treated, three for heat-related illnesses and one for burns, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas was quoted as saying by the City News Service.

All evacuation orders were lifted Sunday evening due to the progress made by firefighters. < "We've turned a corner today, but this is still not over," said Garcetti at a news briefing Sunday.

"There are still embers that are smoldering and these strong winds could move those embers and help them to reignite," he warned.

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