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More Than 165 Structures Damaged, Destroyed In SoCal Fires

The two major wildfires that scorched parts of Los Angeles and Riverside counties last week has damaged or destroyed more than 165 homes and commercial structures, blanketed Los Angeles with unhealthy air and been linked to at least three deaths.

A view of the Saddleridge Fire from Santa Clarita

The Saddleridge Fire, which broke out late Thursday night in Sylmar, has burned nearly 8,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 75 homes or commercial structures as of Monday morning, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Fire authorities said the fire, which started in Sylmar and spread to nearby communities Granada Hills and Porter Ranch, is 43% contained. More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the fire.

dThe cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

In Riverside, the Sandalwood Fire that broke out Thursday afternoon in Calimesa has scorched more than 1,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 90 homes and/or commercial structures as of Monday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire is 95% contained, fire authorities said. 

A dump truck unloading burning trash and debris at Calimesa Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive is believed to have caused the fire, which spread to the vegetation and burned down a nearby mobile home park. 

Two elderly people, who lived at the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park, died, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The two fires were among a handful that broke out in Los Angeles and Riversides counties, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate and closed local schools.

Authorities lifted evacuation orders early Monday morning.

However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a health advisory that the Saddleridge Fire has caused unhealthy air quality.

The notice advises those who live or work in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and in communities near the San Gabriel Mountains to take precautions including avoiding outdoor activities and limiting exercise.

“As residents begin to return home and start cleaning after being evacuated, they are more likely to come in contact with ash and soot, especially in areas that were close to or damaged by the fire," Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis said in the notice. "We ask everyone to remember that smoke and ash can be harmful to health, even for people who are healthy."