Brush Fire Prompts Evacuation of Southern California Amusement Parks

June 10, 2019 Updated: June 10, 2019

LOS ANGELES—A brush fire raging along a Southern California riverbed prompted the evacuation of two nearby amusement parks on Sunday, June 9, but no homes were threatened and no serious injuries were reported, authorities said.

The blaze erupted at about noon in the Valencia community of Santa Clarita, about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and had scorched about 40 acres of grass and scrub along the Santa Clara River by late afternoon, according to a dispatcher from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Park visitors were asked to move to the back of the 260-acre property, away from firefighting activity near the entrance, said Rachel Gallat, who was visiting a friend who works at the park.

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In this photo provided by Arthur Wilkie, people evacuate Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor in Santa Clarita, Calif., north of L.A., on June 9, 2019. (Arthur Wilkie via AP)
People evacuate Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor in Santa Clarita, Calif., on June 9, 2019. (Joel Cannon via AP)

“I was getting iced coffee and when I walked outside, ash was raining down on me,” Gallat said. “There was a big cloud of smoke. I saw people around me panicking; they didn’t know where they were supposed to go.”

Firefighters managed to halt the advance of the blaze within several hours, carving containment lines around 20 percent of its perimeter, the dispatcher said.

No homes or commercial buildings in the sparsely populated area were in danger from the fire, county sheriff’s detective Oleg Polissky said.

But heavy smoke wafted into Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, as well as the adjacent Hurricane Harbor water park, and a tree on the edge of the water park caught fire, Polissky said.

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Heavy smoke from a fast-moving brush fire surrounds Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor, in Santa Clarita, Calif., on June 9, 2019. (Joel Cannon via AP)

Shalane Gonzales, 34, said she saw people running out of the park in bathing suits.

“It was pretty scary. We saw trucks packing people,” Gonzales said. “They were just telling people to load up on their truck beds.”

She said when she tried to drive to the entrance to pick up her partner and their two young sons, police told her to return to the parking lot.

“The fire was feet away from where we were,” she said.

Both parks posted notices online saying they were closed for the day.

“Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor are currently being evacuated due to the Sky Incident brush fire,” Six Flags said on Twitter. “The safety and wellbeing of our guests and team members is our top priority.”

The departure of park visitors was delayed for about an hour by authorities’ brief closure of exit roads, the parks said.

As many as nine people were treated for smoke- or heat-related issues from the fire, the Los Angeles City News Service (CNS) reported. But the fire dispatcher said no one was known to have been seriously hurt.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation. The flames erupted as daytime temperatures in Santa Clarita climbed into the high-90s Fahrenheit, according to CNS.

Warmer, dryer conditions were returning to much of California following weeks of unseasonably cool, damp weather, renewing concerns about a resurgence of summertime wildfires across the state.

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Los Angeles County firemen fight a brush fire burning close to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor amusement park in Santa Clarita, Calif., on June 9, 2019. (Rick McClure/AP)

On Saturday night, utility Pacific Gas and Electric Corp shut off power to some 27,000 customers across five northern California counties in the Sierra foothills as a precaution against dry, windy conditions that pose a heightened risk of wildfires.

The precautionary blackout included areas in and around Paradise, a town largely incinerated last November by the deadliest and most destructive California wildfire on record, which claimed more than 80 lives.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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