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Man Who Died In Sand Fire Was Trying To Rescue His Dogs, Say Neighbors

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Firefighters battle the Sand Fire in Placerita Canyon on July 24. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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The massive Sand Fire has been raging for five days and has scorched 37,000 acres. The damage is immeasurable, not in just in terms of the grief it has caused for families who have lost their homes, but also for the one life it had taken over the weekend.

The body of Robert Bresnick, 67, was discovered around 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, reports the L.A. Times. Firefighters found his body inside a burned car that was parked in a driveway at a home on Iron Canyon Road. Bresnick, thus far, is the only casualty reported from the Sand Fire.

John Kim, a neighbor of Bresnick's, told CBS 2 that Bresnick lived on the property with a woman and that, with the fires approaching, he'd gone back into the home to rescue his dogs. He emerged from the house and took shelter in his car. He was found dead twenty minutes later. Before the incident, Bresnick had been "uncooperative" with evacuation orders, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Bresnick's girlfriend refused to speak with the CBS 2 news crew because she was "too distraught." Morgan Franklin, who lives across the street from Bresnick's property, said that Bresnick and his girlfriend owned three dogs together. "Her house is gone, her boyfriend is gone," Franklin told the Times. "It's crazy."

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The fire has shown some signs of abatement. The Times reports that, as of 11:05 a.m. Tuesday, the fire is 25% contained. On Monday night, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's station said that most of the evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes. There were exceptions, however, for residents living on sections of Placerita Canyon Road, Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Agua Dulce Canyon Road, and Soledad Canyon Road. Mandatory evacuations had been issued for approximately 20,000 residents. According to KTLA, 18 homes were destroyed in the blaze.

L.A. Times photographer Irfan Khan took some images of those destroyed properties:

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued another smoke advisory on Tuesday, saying that the smoke is expected to move north and northeast of the original site of the blaze. Smoke advisories had also been issued on Saturday and Monday. Even regions as far as Clark County in Nevada (about 250 miles from Los Angeles) have issued their own air quality advisories pertaining to the Sand Fire.

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LAist reached out to the L.A. County Homicide Bureau regarding Bresnick, but investigators were unavailable for comment at the moment.