Brush fire forces evacuation at L.A. Zoo

Brush fire forces evacuation at L.A. Zoo

27 July 2008

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USA — Thousands of visitors were evacuated from the Los Angeles Zoo on Sunday as a fast-moving brush fire burned in nearby Griffith Park and forced the relocation of 16 rare California condors.

The fire had burned about 20 to 30 acres and was 80 percent contained by 3 p.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department Division Cmdr. Mark Stormes.

No injuries had been reported and no homes were in danger, said fire spokesman Ron Myers.

Smoke could be seen from Highway 134 billowing up from the hills in the park, blowing north toward the San Fernando Valley. Myers estimated about 200 firefighters from 32 fire departments were battling the blaze and four helicopters were dropping water in the park’s northern end.

Flames came within about 1,000 feet of a California condor enclosure in the park, forcing the relocation of the condors and two vultures, said zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs.

The birds were moved from a breeding area at the edge of the zoo to a more central area and were not in immediate danger, Stormes said.

“At this point, they’re doing very, very well,” he said. “(Firefighters are) standing by to evacuate, but at this point they shouldn’t need to.”

Stormes said the California Highway Patrol was closing some of the highway’s exit ramps to control traffic around the park.

A city dispatcher said Griffith Park was closed due to the fire.

Jacobs said about 4,000 zoo visitors were evacuated around 1 p.m., about 15 minutes after the fire was reported.

The fire was burning near where another blaze took out about 1,200 acres in May 2007.

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