More than 150 firefighters battled a 30-acre brush fire in Brentwood on Sunday that investigators say was sparked by a gas-driven weed whacker.
As of 5:30 p.m. the blaze was 70% contained, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A private company working on Mandeville Canyon Road had been using the brush-clearing device to clear flammable material from around homes when its muffler overheated, said Battalion Chief Mike Castillo, supervisor for the LAFD’s arson unit.
The fire, which triggered the evacuation of five homes in a major emergency response, was reported in the 2900 block of Mandeville Canyon Road at 12:46 p.m., according to the department.
The road, lined with large homes with hillside views, follows a canyon northward and dead-ends not far from a curve in Mulholland Drive.
The fire could be seen from the Getty Museum as visitors looked northwest, but the museum remained open. As of 1:11 p.m., the blaze had spread to six to eight acres, burning through heavy brush with winds blowing at an estimated 5 to 10 mph, according to LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart.
Three water-dropping helicopters, two from the Los Angeles Fire Department and one from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, were working to help prevent the flames from advancing, according to a city fire department statement.
LAFD Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond said that five homes had been evacuated around 1 p.m. However, as of 4 p.m., no structures were threatened, he said.
With the exception of Mandeville Canyon Road, all the roads around the burn area remained open. Richmond said firefighters were hoping to contain the blaze by Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Asked to describe the severity of the fire on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe, Richmond called it a “3.”
The blaze is burning in “all directions,” he said, and firefighters are using a combination of air resources and ground tactics to attack it.
No further evacuations are needed and no injuries have been reported, city fire officials said.
“While the fire did burn within 200 [feet] of structures, firefighters performing structural defense prevented any further threat and no homes are currently at risk,” Stewart said in a statement at 2:54 p.m.
Simon Beardmore, a real estate agent who lives a few homes down from the Mandeville blaze, had just dropped two of his children off at a play date and was working at a coffee shop when his wife, visiting New Jersey with their eldest daughter, texted around 1:10 p.m. to tell him there was a fire and one of their neighbors was self-evacuating.
“I just dropped everything and raced back,” he said. Their pets, two dogs, two lizards and a guinea pig, were still in the home. “I had a pit in my stomach.”
The road was blocked, so Beardmore ran uphill for about two and a half miles to find flames on the hillside, just a few houses away from his own.
Ash rained down on cars, but luckily the wind was blowing away from the homes, he said, and firefighters were containing flare-ups.
“Obviously, living in a canyon, it’s like our greatest fear — especially Mandeville Canyon, because there’s only one way out,” he said.
Sharona Ashorzadeh, who lives nearby on Stoney Hill Road, said she packed a bag with clothes, passports and other necessities for her family in case an evacuation order came.
Ashorzadeh was out with her family in Beverly Hills on Sunday but returned home to check on her residence after hearing about the blaze.
“We were just shocked,” Ashorzadeh said. “You just don’t think it’s going to happen to you.”
Firefighters were also beating back a brush fire in Lake View Terrace in what authorities said was a remote location difficult to access by ground.
By 12:25 p.m., the blaze, near 11230 N. Dominca Ave., had burned some 15 to 18 acres in the Angeles National Forest.
The L.A. County Fire Department sent a full brush response team and at least one water-dropping helicopter, according to city fire alerts.
As of 2:16 p.m., the Dominca fire was 95% contained, with crews holding the blaze down to eight acres, according to a statement on the Angeles National Forest’s Twitter page.