SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – A pair of tamed but persistent wildfires still burned in the hills and mountains around Interstate 5 after a wild week of burning brush in the area north of Los Angeles.
A new fire that broke out Friday, the third major blaze in the area in a week, quickly surged to more than 500 acres, briefly threatened an elementary school and led to the temporary evacuation of about 20 homes.
The fire burned very close to I-5 during some of the busiest hours of the week for the heavily traveled route in and out of Los Angeles, but some 350 firefighters were able to get the edge on the blaze as quickly as it arose.
The fire was 60 percent contained by nightfall and residents who evacuated were told they could safely return, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
Crews were helped by relatively mild temperatures that were expected to remain into the weekend, but challenged by unpredictable winds and very difficult terrain.
With air and ground attacks, firefighters were able to douse the flames closest to Northlake Hills Elementary School and stop a looming threat.
The school had a large defensible space around it, so it was easy to protect, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Miller said.
The campus was put on lockdown and buses were put on standby for a time in case hundreds of kindergarten through fifth-grade students needed to be evacuated.
After the flames were redirected, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Allen said the students were released to their parents without incident.
The fire was moving toward Castaic Lake.
The earlier fire that broke out Wednesday near Frazier Park was 55 percent contained Friday after consuming some 4,300 acres.
That blaze was not threatening any homes or buildings but fire officials said containing it would be a long, difficult task because it was burning in such rugged and hard-to-reach terrain.