Amtrak bus fire ignites Southern California wildfire

 Amtrak bus fire ignites Southern California wildfire

17 July 2009

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USA — An Amtrak bus went up in flames Friday on Interstate 5 northwest of Los Angeles and fire spread to nearby brush in the mountainous area where firefighters were already fighting another wildfire.

All nine passengers and the driver got off before the bus was engulfed, and luggage was removed as well, said Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero in Washington, D.C.

The bus had pulled onto the shoulder of the interstate, a major connector between Los Angeles and the Central Valley.

Operated by Coach America, the bus was on a run from the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance north to Bakersfield, Romero said. Amtrak has bus connections in parts of California not served by rail.

Northbound traffic was brought to a halt when firefighters arrived on scene.

In the same region, Los Angeles County firefighters were battling a 55-acre wildfire.

More than 200 firefighters fought the Castaic-area blaze, which erupted at midafternoon in medium brush, said fire Inspector Steve Zermeno.

An aircraft painted a line of pink fire retardant across hilly lands between the fire and a neighborhood of homes. Containment was estimated at 15 percent.

Elsewhere Friday, a fire burned eight acres of brush in Monterey Park next to the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s headquarters.

Firefighters also were still on the scene of a nearly completely contained 1,500-acre blaze that began early in the week on the Camp Pendleton Marine base in San Diego County.

Weather was hot but not windy in Southern California, and humid air brought thunderstorms in the mountains and deserts.

The National Weather Service said a strong upper-level high-pressure system centered over the desert Southwest will continue to bring hot temperatures across inland Southern California through early next week. Highs in the valleys were predicted to range from 95 to 105 degrees.

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