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Containment increases on Saddleridge Fire after it chars nearly 8,000 acres

by KABC-TV news staff |

LOS ANGELES – As residents affected by the Saddleridge Fire, which has burned nearly 8,000 acres in the northern San Fernando Valley, returned to their homes over the weekend, firefighters continued making progress on the blaze, which damaged or destroyed at least 75 structures.

Residents were able to return home Saturday evening when evacuation orders were lifted as containment of the fire increased after it left one person dead, damaging or destroying at least 30 structures and forcing about 100,000 people from their homes in parts of Sylmar, Granada Hills and Porter Ranch.

Containment of the fire was at 43% and had burned 7,965 acres as of early Monday morning.

Some residents returned to their neighborhoods to find their home in ruins.

Officials said Monday three first responders were injured, including a firefighter who suffered a minor eye injury.

The Los Angeles Unified School District said that all schools would be open Monday. Community colleges that were affected by the fire were also planning to return to their regular schedules.

Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District are warning residents in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Clarita Valley of unhealthy air quality that remains in effect through Monday.

Children and people with sensitivity to poor air quality should stay indoors "as much as possible even in areas where smoke, soot, or ash cannot be seen, or there is no smell of smoke," officials said.

The blaze erupted around 9 p.m. Thursday in Sylmar, Granada Hills and Porter Ranch. The wind-driven fire led to the shutdown of multiple major freeways, including Interstate 210 and Interstate 5. One witness said he saw the initial stage of the Saddleridge Fire burning at the base of a Southern California Edison transmission tower behind his Sylmar home Thursday night. The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Firefighters who arrived to knock down the then-small fire that night were quickly overwhelmed and had to retreat to their trucks. From there, the fire exploded: One person died in connection to the aggressive brush fire. Officials held a press conference on the fire Friday, in which they reported a man died of cardiac arrest as a result of the wind-driven blaze.

Firefighters relied on lower wind speeds increased humidity and lower temperatures Sunday and focused on mopping up remaining hot spots.