USA: Hawk Sets Off California Wildfire, Thousands Evacuate

Hawk Sets Off California Wildfire, Thousands Evacuate

(publishedby: Planet Ark, 20 July2004)


LOS ANGELES – Thousands of evacuees kept a wary eye on a brush-fed wildfire that forced them from their homes north of Los Angeles as temperatures rose and humidity plunged yesterday, fire officials said.

The Foothill fire near Santa Clarita, about 22 miles northwest of Los Angeles, has charred 5,710 acres and prompted the evacuation of 1,600 homes since it started on Saturday, a Los Angeles County fire spokesman said.

Fire officials traced the blaze’s source to a red-tailed hawk that apparently was electrocuted by power lines and fell to the ground, igniting brush that has not burned since 1962.

The fire was 39 percent contained, but firefighters feared high temperatures and light winds forecast for Monday afternoon would send it toward nearby homes, the spokesman said.

In a separate incident, firefighters gained the upper hand on a week-old blaze near Lake Hughes, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, and predicted full containment by Friday.

Last week, the Pine fire forced evacuations of about 1,000 homes in a canyon country whose pine forests and brush had not burned in nearly 100 years, firefighters said.

The wildfire grew to 17,400 acres yesterday and had destroyed three homes and 21 outbuildings, a fire spokesman said. The cause of the Pine fire is still being sought.

A firefighter killed in a car wreck after battling the Pine fire was expected to be buried yesterday.

Source: REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


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