SANTA CLARITA — A fast-moving brush fire erupted near a huge amusement and water park in Southern California on Sunday, sending hundreds of visitors to the exit to escape clouds of smoke and ash before fire officials asked them to stay put while they worked to contain the blaze.
Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor announced the evacuation shortly after noon, citing concern for the safety of park visitors and employees. About a half-hour later, the park said on its Twitter account that fire officials asked guests to shelter in place due to nearby road closures.
Park visitors were asked to move to the back of the 260-acre property, away from firefighting activity near the entrance, said Rachel Gallat, who was visiting a friend who works at the park.
"I was getting iced coffee and when I walked outside, ash was raining down on me," Gallat said. "There was a big cloud of smoke. I saw people around me panicking; they didn't know where they were supposed to go."
A Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher told the Los Angeles Times the park voluntarily evacuated visitors.
"We did not tell them to do this," Melanie Flores said.
Los Angeles County fire officials said nine people were taken to the hospital due to smoke exposure. The blaze is 20% contained.