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LAFD Captain Speaks of Sayre Fire's 'Total Devastation'

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The Sayre fire raged overnight through Sylmar, causing "total devastation" to hundreds of homes | AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Los Angeles City Fire Department Captain Steve Ruda began his address to the evacuees, volunteers, and members of the press gathered this morning at Sylmar High School by admitting "I don't have good news."

Ruda explained that the fire known now as the Sayre fire began at 10:30 last night, and that the cause is under investigation. The "wind-driven fire" has now grown to encompass 2600-3000 acres in the area best described as the "foothills" of the San Gabriel mountains in the Sylmar area, and is moving North and Northwest into the Newhall Pass and the San Fernando Valley. At this time, according to Ruda, there is "no containment" of the fire, and 1400 firefighting personnel from multiple agencies on scene. He assured that the LAPD were on patrol on the streets to protect the remaining personal property of the evacuees.

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In his briefing, Ruda focused on the fire's destructive journey through a Sylmar mobile home community called Oakridge located near the 210 Freeway and Glenoaks Blvd. that unfortunately suffered "great devastation." Of the approximately 600 mobile homes on site, the majority were lost. Ruda spoke of seeing flames 50 feet high that "burned [homes] to the ground," adding, "there's not much left." The Captain also described firefighters' "hoses melted into the cement" and the scene being "an absolute firestorm," remarking that it was "unbelievable what [firefighters] faced" in the pre-dawn hours. Ruda brought out a burned and tattered American flag that they had salvaged from a home that was destroyed, hoping to give the mobile park residents some symbol of hope and for the flag to serve as a symbol of honor for the firefighters who so valiantly worked to protect people's homes and lives.