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Sylmar fire transforming this into the weekend from hell

November 15, 2008 |  9:21 am


Another fire so soon?

Predictably, yes.

With the Montecito Tea fire still burning, a second blaze was sparked Friday night and is now raging out of control in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

We're under assault by the most powerful, hottest and driest Santa Ana wind event of the season.

Fueled by wind gusts as strong as 70 mph, the Sylmar-area blaze, dubbed the Sayre fire, has already burned more than 2,600 acres, including several structures and possibly an entire mobile home park.

Thousands of evacuations have been ordered, and residents throughout the northern portion of the Valley should be prepared to flee. Travelers will find much of the freeway system closed.

Unfortunately, this is what can happen to homes built in canyons through which Santa Anas are delivered (see above image). All it takes is a downed power line to spark a fire, which is then swept up by those winds.

Accuweather.com meteorologist John Kocet said of current conditions: "Think of what would happen if you pounded your fist on the bottom half of a full tube of toothpaste.... The same forces apply in the atmosphere when a large amount of air is forced through smaller spaces."

Living in these areas, alas, is a gamble.

And as daytime temperatures soar, the danger will persist throughout the Southland. Fortunately, the winds are expected to subside this afternoon, but a Santa Ana condition will linger through at least Sunday.

Good luck, everyone.

-- Pete Thomas

Image: accuweather.com