Porter Ranch, an upper middle-class suburb that was the backdrop for the 1982 movie "E.T." is no stranger to evacuations. Four years ago, a blowout at an underground natural gas well operated by Southern California Gas Co. in the neighboring Aliso Canyon storage facility drove 8,000 families from their homes.
In Northern California, the lights were back on Friday for more than half of the 1.8 million to 2.4 million residents who lost electricity after PG&E switched it off on Wednesday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.
PG&E began restoring the power after workers inspected power lines to make sure it was safe to do so. Officials had worried the winds might topple transmission lines and start wildfires.
Helicopters made repeated water drops as crews in Los Angeles attacked flames in and around homes. Water and retardant-dropping airplanes joined the battle after daybreak. About 1,000 firefighters were on the lines.
"Although they've happened a lot throughout the years, they've never been this close to where we can actually see the flames if you're standing in your backyard," Daisy Perez, a resident in the area, told KQED.
Edwin Bernard, 73, said he and his wife were forced to leave their four cats behind as they fled their Sylmar home.
Bernard, standing outside the evacuation center at the Sylmar Recreation Center on Friday, said they were only able to grab their three dogs. During a previous wildfire, they'd had time to find their passports and photo albums, but not Thursday night.
"The fireman said, 'go, go, go!'" Bernard said. "It was a whole curtain of fire. There was fire on all sides. We had to leave."