California Wildfire Forces Evacuation of 1,000 People
(publishedby: Planet Ark, 19 July2004)
LOS ANGELES – Firefighters battled for a fifth day last week to contain a wildfire in the Los Angeles National Forest that has scorched 14,000 acres and forced the evacuation of about 1,000 people from summer cabins and rural homes.
Scorching temperatures of around 95 Fahrenheit, low humidity and gusting winds gave little hope of bringing the blaze under control in an area near Lake Hughes, 50 miles north of Los Angeles, that is home to the rare California Condor, spotted owls and exotic plants. Some of the brush and pine trees there have not burned for nearly 100 years, forest officials said.
“The winds are moving so erratically it’s hard to try and predict what’s going to happen. With the fuel being real dry up there, the brush and trees burn harder and faster,” said county fire Capt. Dennis Cross.
Three homes and five outbuildings have been destroyed in the fire, believed to have been started by an unknown arsonist. Families in more than five rural communities were ordered to leave their homes last night along with some 220 people in two youth probation camps in the forest.
A firefighter was killed in a car wreck earlier in the week as he drove home after battling the flames. Three people have suffered minor injuries since the fire erupted on Monday afternoon. The fire was 36 percent contained last week.