Editor’s note: This story was originally published December 5. It has been updated throughout with the most recent information.
Hundreds of Valley residents awoke before sunrise Tuesday to orders to flee. A fast-moving and wind-driven wildfire fire was racing through the foothills of Angeles National Forest and toward their homes.
That fire, now dubbed the Creek Fire, has ballooned to more than 12,000 acres. It has wrecked dozen of homes from Sylmar to Sunland-Tujunga to Shadow Hills and forced as many as 150,000 people to find shelter.
The numbers are heartbreaking. So are the images. Residents are sharing photos of flames licking dangerously close to their homes. Reporters are on the scene, capturing the smoldering rubble.
The images and videos showcase how scary living close to wilderness areas in LA can be, especially when the Santa Ana winds are blowing. Those dry, powerful winds, so often romanticized, not only fan wildfires but scatter embers, turning homes into matchboxes.
Below are harrowing photos posted to Instagram and Twitter of the Creek Fire.
12-5-11 | Sylmar, CA | Creek Fire Day 1| Crews from @losangelesfiredepartment and @lacountyfd battle a wind driven brush fire in the foothills above Sylmar. Winds up to 60mph are driving the flames through neighborhoods. #firephotographer #firefighters_daily @socalfirefighters @firefighting_obsession #firefighterpost #firefighterinstalover @taskforce_photography @fireground_daily @californiafirefighter @fire_and_police #fireground #fireservice #thinredline #iaff #instadaily #firefighter #spartansofsmoke #мчсроссии @csfafire @firefightersmotive #viewsfromwork @firefighterbrotherhood @smolderingfrontier #firefightersoftheworld #firelife_photography #firefightingpride
Tuesday at 5:30am I saw flames on the horizon, the sky had an eery orange glow. Around 1pm, we got word that our street was being evacuated. Our surrounding hills were up in flames. Chris and I both started the trek home.. no easy feat, as the 210 was shut down and alternative routes were jammed. It was real life Armageddon as I got close. Policeman everywhere, streets closed, and thick orange smoke filling the sky. Thankfully, I was joined by @lainey.rose10 , Dom & James. They too had been stopped on the same street as me. We had no option other than to start hiking to the house on foot. Quite a weird feeling heading towards danger as people are running from it. As we got closer, we watched all of our neighbors Packing their trailers, and walking their horses to safety. It’s interesting to think about what is most important to you when you only have a few minutes to decide. It’s easy to let your mind and body go blank, while time stands still. I really didn’t care about any of my things, all I could think about was Chris. He still wasn’t there, and still couldn’t be reached. All of a sudden, Lainey and I saw Chris!! Sweaty, out of breath and immediately getting to work, taking the dirt bike out of the bed of his truck. I was in shock to see him! Chris, heroically, made it from Costa Mesa to me, in crazy time. He had ran miles from the road closures, hitch hiked a few hundred yards, then ran up our treacherous hill, not knowing what he was running up to. He pulled the newly purchased fire hose out & started spraying everything. As the police pulled up to the house, we were just about to leave our sanctuary behind. Everything inside of you at that moment wants to hold on, when you know, you have to let go. In shock and disbelief, we drove out of our neighborhood watching the smoke in our rearview mirror. Chris and I have been through a lot together, but Tuesday, he showed me how superhuman & lion hearted he is. We are feeling very fortunate. Thank you to everyone’s thoughts and prayers. And a huge thank you to everyone that helped and reached out to us. So many people have not been so lucky. #CreekFire #CaliStrong