The first of several brushfires was reported off Michael Lane in the Highlands at 10 p.m. Friday night, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange.
LAFD reported three hours later that there are “72 firefighters on scene, with help from four LA County FD hand crews. The fire is approximately 10 acres in heavy brush and steep terrain, with no wind and wet/cool conditions.
“There are no structures immediately threatened. Crews are on standby in a local neighborhood for structure defense in case the conditions change unexpectedly. The fire is not advancing but will be an extended process to extinguish because of the extremely remote location of the fire, where there are no roads or hydrants in steep and rough terrain. Firefighter/PIO David Ortiz is on scene. LAFD Arson Investigators are on scene investigating.”
A total of four fires were set last night. Initially, investigators suspected a local homeless man named “Hilton” who reportedly builds shrines and then sets them on fire. Later on Saturday, the LAFD investigators said they had determined that “Hilton” is not the culprit. That person is another homeless man known to authorities.
LAFD personnel, who were following the suspect via helicopter on Saturday, continually dropped water on the newly-lit fires, quickly extinguishing them.
A Sheriff’s swat team is moving through Topanga State Park trying to apprehend the man. So far, the suspect has successfully evaded capture in the thick terrain.
The main fire has grown to 750 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations for people living in Zone 4 and 6 in Topanga.
Topanga Canyon Boulevard is closed between Pacific Coast Highway and Mulholland Highway. Residents cannot access the area, according to KTLA 5.
The flames were being driven by wind gusts from the south-southwest at 15-25 mph, according to the National Weather Service, which tweeted “Humidities 50 percent or higher, but fuels are VERY dry.”
State Park trails are being closed.
Circling the News will update this story once the suspect is apprehended.