KEY POINTS

  • Authorities first responded to the fire Friday evening
  • The Palisades Fire is still 0% contained
  • Authorities suspect it may have been caused by arson

The raging fire in Los Angeles County's Pacific Palisades area continues to threaten homes days after it was ignited. Authorities are now on the lookout for the suspected arsonist.

Authorities first responded to what is now known as the "Palisades Fire" Friday late evening. By Sunday afternoon, it was still at 0% containment and had spread to 1,325 acres, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) said in an update. Mandatory evacuation orders have been put in place in several areas, which affects at least 500 homes. Ranches with livestock are also evacuated to a nearby emergency animal shelter, ABC News reported.

The National Weather Station in Los Angeles shared an image on Twitter, showing thick smoke coming from the fires.

The exact cause of the fire is not known but authorities suspect it may have been caused by arson. Police helicopters in the area apparently spotted someone setting fires Friday night. 

"Air Rescue 5 inserting LASD SEB personnel in the Topanga area in search of arson suspect setting fires," the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Sunday on Twitter, sharing images of an aerial search.

"I heard there's caves in there. There's multiple caves per the park rangers. So, he might be in a cave because there was a lot of smoke and for him to survive that, he has to go somewhere indoors. So, I'm thinking he went to a cave," Sgt. Jay Balgemino told CBS.

There have been 44 arrests on arson charges in the first four months of 2021 alone, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

So far, the battle against the fire has been quite difficult, with the area being "steep and difficult to navigate," according to the LAFD. It's also inaccessible to vehicles and the area is said to be rather dry.

Cal Fire has also sent crews to help fight the fire, ABC News said, noting that cooler weather and rain also provided some relief for the firefighters. However, it's likely that the conditions will become more unfavorable yet again.

"We are expecting the rain to stop around noon time and fire activity to begin again," LAFD spokesperson David Ortiz told ABC7.

Last year, California experienced a record fire season that burned over 2 million acres. Fire seasons have increased by 75%, Cal Fire said. Climate change is a "key driver" for the trend.

Buildings burn along Highway 12 as fire approaches Santa Rosa, California on September 28, 2020 Buildings burn along Highway 12 as fire approaches Santa Rosa, California on September 28, 2020 Photo: Agence France-Presse / Samuel Corum