It was 6:50 a.m., when Jesús López left his home Thursday to work for Sylmar. On a normal day, "he said," from his home in Panorama City only 15 minutes ago. However, yesterday was not an ordinary day.

The Saddleridge fire, which originated Thursday night in Sylmar and spread ravenously through various cities of San Fernando due to high winds, caused chaos in the streets and roads causing delays to workers, canceled classes and business closures.

“I was in charge because my supervisor is not there and from early on they started calling me (companions) from Lancaster and Palmdale saying they couldn't go to the company, because the highway 14 through Newhall and the 5 were closed,” said Jesus, who has been an employee of a company that sells dental items for more than a decade.

He added that he began to watch the news and when he thought it was not something so serious he decided to take the wheel and go to work.

On the way he realized that the roads were closed and decided to go on Bradley Avenue "but the Polk, the Bledsoe and the Roxford were closed by the train bars," he said in a telephone interview with La Opinion.

The odyssey of finding a clear road lasted 40 minutes. He says that when he arrived he saw only 10 employees, when normally at that time, there are already about 40.

"Another supervisor began to distribute masks but as we worked in a warehouse (warehouse), although we closed the doors and turned on the fans, the smoke began to get in," said the 34-year-old.

That attempt to fulfill their work, lasted little. Half an hour later, the order was given to return to their homes. The poor air quality made it impossible to remain in place.

"When I left my job, on the avenue there was already a (car) line like the In-N-Out line … I couldn't even leave the parking lot," he said.

He adds that coming back was worse. “They had already put safety at the crossroads. Streets

Hubbard, Maclay and Brand Boulevard were closed. It took me more than an hour and a half to return home, ”he said wearily.

The ramps and various streets were closed during the morning. / photos: Aurelia Ventura.

A day without pay

Andrea Sánchez, 30 years old and mother of an 8-year-old girl, decided not to go to work this Thursday.

She tells that her daughter's classes, who is in third grade at a Simi Valley school, were canceled, and that she was notified at 6:30 a.m.

"At the last minute, I find it difficult to find someone to leave her with … Sometimes you have to depend on friends but not everyone can," he says.

In addition, the worker of a medical office, explains that with all the traffic jams it would take a long time to get to work, added to the gasoline – which she says – is increasingly expensive that she would consume in transit.

Now he is waiting to know if they are going to offer to change this absence for a holiday or they simply will not pay him. "If this is the second, it means one less day of work," referring to a possible incomplete check.

Highways 210, 5 and 118 remained closed during this Thursday creating delays among motorists. / photo: Aurelia Ventura.

Schools close their doors

Marian Reyna, who works in a loan processing company for the purchase of houses in Granada Hills, has found it impossible to remain in her office this Thursday.

"The door opens to the street and the smoke began to seep … I only held on for three hours because my eyes were itchy and the throbbing burned," he said.

He also said that during the morning he received a call from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which indicated that children were going to leave school early due to the Saddleridge fire.

“Their school was not in the evacuation zone but then they decided to let the children out through the smoke,” said the mother of two 6 and 4-year-old children, students from Lemay Elementary.

He adds that when he got to pick them up, the smallest came out covering his mouth and sometimes his nose.

Another of those affected by the fire was her husband, who works in the UPS parcel area in Sylmar. "He enters at 4:00 a.m., but since the warehouse has the doors open, they were sent home because of the (bad) air quality," Reyna said.

She noted that the restaurant where her husband also works, located in Chatsworth, closed his attention to the public due to evacuations.


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