Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Climate and Environment

Route Fire Holding At About 5,200 Acres; Evacuations Lifted

A large plume of smoke billows up from barren brown hills. A freeway cuts through the middle of the hills.
The Route Fire near Castaic broke out a minute after noon on Aug. 31. Traffic on the 5 Freeway was shut down in both directions.
(Courtesy L.A. County Fire Department )
Today on Giving Tuesday, we need you.
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all today on Giving Tuesday. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls AND will be matched dollar-for-dollar! Let your support for reliable local reporting be amplified by this special matching opportunity. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

What We Know So Far

The Route Fire, which ignited just after noon Wednesday near the 5 Freeway in Castaic, has burned about 5,200 acres and is now 37% contained, fire officials reported Friday morning.

Their plan is to continue mopping up hot spots near containment lines, hoping to get the hardest work done before the midday heat.

Support for LAist comes from

Authorities say conditions remain challenging, with excessive heat, steep terrain and low humidity creating conditions that already injured seven firefighters on day one.

In a media briefing Thursday morning, Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief Thomas Ewald noted that containment is key, but can be difficult to report with certainty, as firefighters work to confirm that there's “no possibility of the fire jumping” containment lines.

“We can knock down the intensity of the fire, but it’s really about perimeter control."

Background

The fire began just after noon on Wednesday at the I-5 and Lake Hughes Road.

  • Cause is under investigation
  • 550 structures threatened, 2 destroyed
  • 7 firefighters injured
  • 512 personnel
    • 58 engines
    • 11 hand crews
    • 10 dozers
    • Air support includes: 5 water tenders and 2 helicopters

Injuries

Fire officials reported on Twitter that seven firefighters already had heat-related injuries and five of them have been taken to a local hospital.

In Thursday's briefing, officials reported that all of them had been released from the hospital and were doing well.

Evacuations

All evacuations have been lifted.

Evacuation Centers

People

  • West Ranch High School | 26255 West Valencia Blvd.
Support for LAist comes from

Animals

  • Castaic Animal Shelter | 31044 North Charlie Canyon Road

Road Closures

Ridge Route Road is open to residents with ID checks.

For the 5 Freeway, Caltrans reports that northbound two lanes remain closed north of Lake Hughes Road, but southbound lanes are fully open between Templin Highway and Lake Hughes Road.

Where To Look For The Latest Information

Air Quality

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Wednesday issued a smoke advisory for the area.

As the predicted heat wave descended on the region, the district had already place the region under an ozone advisory, noting that "ozone air pollution can cause respiratory health problems, including trouble breathing, asthma attacks, and lung damage." The heavy smoke from the fire could exacerbate the risks.

Why It Matters

With high heat and low humidity expected for the next several days, any wildfire in the area is spreading quickly. At 4 p.m on the first day, the Route Fire was reported at 250 acres. By 5:30 it had grown to 600 acres, and less than two hours later it was at more than 4,600 acres and still spreading.

Emergency responders will be exposed to dangerous conditions. The National Weather Service reported temperatures near 110 degrees at the site of the fire shortly after the fire was first reported at 12:01 p.m.

The Context

California’s wildfires have gotten increasingly destructive and deadly.

Jacob Margolis, who covers fires for our newsroom, notes the Route Fire is burning in areas that appear not to have burned for decades.

"One spot hasn't burned since 1983 and other spots 2001 and other spots 2007. You know, all that's time for fuel to build up," said Margolis, who has an upcoming LAist Studios podcast on fires called The Big Burn.

Some important context to keep in mind from Margolis' larger explainer on wildfires:

Temperatures have gotten hotter and our landscapes have gotten drier, which makes them more susceptible to burning throughout more of the year. On top of that, extreme drought, of which climate change is a contributing factor, leads to plant stress and massive tree die off. Those dead trees become added fuel for fires.

Read more: LA Explained: Wildfires Are Getting Worse. What You Need To Know

How We're Reporting On This

Margolis is monitoring the fire and will have live reports on 89.3 KPCC. Kristine Malicse is monitoring social media for reports. Additional producers and editors are contributing.

What questions do you have about the fires burning in Southern California?

Corrected September 1, 2022 at 9:28 AM PDT
An earlier version incorrectly referenced the Friday morning commute regarding the reopening of lanes on the I-5. It's Thursday.