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We're Answering Your Questions About The Saddleridge And Sandalwood Wildfires

A wildfire burns in Sylmar, Calif., Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/David Swanson)
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Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

The fast-moving fires that are setting SoCal neighborhoods ablaze have prompted questions from many of you. So we've set about getting answers. Keep asking, and we'll keep answering. See the Q & A's below. Have more questions? Fill out the form at the bottom of the story.

This story will be updated

Q: Where can I take clothing blankets and blow up air beds?
Carmie Fox, Riverside County

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A: Organizations like the Red Cross and Goodwill prefer that your donations come in cash and not physical objects, which takes time to sort and process. And a spokesperson from Operation USA says, "Items that are used/collected are very hard to actually ship and distribute, and more often than not they create a burden and are warehoused or trashed rather than delivered where they might be needed. In the wake of fires, cash will be the best way to help those who are impacted." Read more about donating.

Q: Is the Riverside fire near UC Riverside?
- Veronica J Strohm Powers, Garden Grove

A: There are several fires in Riverside County, but none are currently near the campus of UC Riverside. The closest, the Reche Fire, is about nine miles northeast of the campus.

Q: Is the Ponderosa Park on 3rd St in Calimesa in danger?
- Anonymous

A: As of 11 a.m. on Friday, Ponderosa Park is outside the current evacuation zone -- you can see it here. But being just one mile east, it's not far outside that area. Have plans in place in case you need to evacuate to a shelter. One is located at Mesa Grande Academy, 975 Fremont Street, Calimesa, CA. And officials say that if you need help with small pets, please call (951) 358-7387.

Q: We are supposed to camp at Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu today and this weekend. Is this area affected by the fires?
- Keri B Pommerenk, Huntington Beach

A: You should be fine - the Saddleridge fire is located about 25 miles northeast of your camp site, and another smaller fire, the Wendy Fire, is located about 6-7 miles north of you. That one is currently 50% contained. However, remember that many campsites regulate whether you can start a fire or not. At Leo Carrillo Beach, you may only burn wood at designated fire rings, and you should check signs near the entrance to find out if you can create a fire on the days you're there.

Q: How can we help or volunteer help?
- Frances Dela Cruz, Mission Hills

A: If you'd like to volunteer with an organization like the Red Cross, they say it actually takes at least a week of training before your boots can go on the ground. They accept applications here.However the organization says that volunteers aren't just needed in the middle of a fire, but afterwards, too. For example, volunteers might help with recovery services, where they work with people to connect them with the right services to help them get back on their feet.

Q: Is any part of Santa Clarita being evacuated? If so, what areas?
- Michelle Doucette, Lancaster

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A: As of 1.30pm on Friday, there are no mandatory evacuation orders in effect for Santa Clarita. You can see a map of what's affected right here. However the 5 is closed in both directions at the Calgrove Blvd entrance/exit.

Q: Is downtown Los Angeles at risk from this fire?
- Andrew, West Hollywood

A: No - the Saddleridge fire is more than 20 miles northwest of where you are. But if you're planning to travel, note that the freeways close to the fire, most notably the 5 in both directions between Sylmar and Santa Clarita, is closed.

Q: What's known about the cause of the Saddleridge fire? (And why isn't it two words: Saddle Ridge?)
- Anonymous

A: LA County Fire has no information so far on how the Saddleridge fire started. It's called "Saddleridge" because the convention is to name a fire after a nearby location or road where it started. In this case, it was Saddle Ridge Rd in Sylmar. There's no space between those words because, well, officials say they need to make a social media hashtag out of the names of fires. So it's "#SaddleridgeFire" because "#Saddle RidgeFire" doesn't work.

Q: What's the direction of the wind at the Saddleridge fire?
- Anonymous

A: Officials haven't indicated the wind direction, but here's a map so you can see the places affected so far. Authorities did say, though, that if you are nearby you should get ready at a moment's notice to leave, as conditions can change at any time. Stay safe!

Q: I have to drive into Lancaster from LAX to pick my mom up. Are the roads closed? I take the 405 to the 5 and then to the 14.
- Nichelle Taylor

A: Unfortunately they are. Here's a map of what's closed. You might have to take a long detour through the mountains on either side to make it to her.


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