LOS ANGELES, California, June 7, 2002 (ENS) – More than 2,000 firefighters are battling to contain a 23,500 acre fire in the Angeles National Forest. Homes in Green Valley are threatened, and 1,100 people were evacuated this morning. Several hundred other people in smaller communities were also forced out of their homes, and area roads are closed. Officials estimate that 1,200 residences are threatened, seven have been destroyed. The flames are consuming medium to heavy brush in inaccessible terrain. High voltage power lines serving Los Angeles are threatened.
Firefighters with hoses face wall of flames. (Photo courtesy L.A. County Fire Department) Fire crews from the U.S. Forest Service, and from California state, county and local agencies are trying to the contain the blaze. Officials say 181 engines are on the scene along with 53 hand crews.
Six fixed wing airplanes, five helicopters, nine water tenders, and 20 bulldozers have been deployed, but the fire is only 10 percent contained and officials have given no estimate of when full containment will be achieved. The endangered California red-legged frog, and arroyo toad are threatened and proposed critical habitat for the unarmored threespine stickeleback fish is also affected. A spark caused by a grinder from a welding operation at a Copper Hill Road construction site started the blaze on Wednesday. It spread rapidly Thursday and is still spreading today. To the west in Ventura County, the state’s other huge blaze has burned more than 19,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest nine miles north of Ojai. Fire officials are prepositioning resources in anticipation of a strong cold front moving into the Pacific Northwest bringing windy and dry conditions to states in front of the system. This critical weather pattern is expected to persist throughout the weekend creating extreme fire conditions across many western states. Visitors to wildland areas are urged to check for fire restrictions prior to visiting public lands. Many states have various levels of restrictions due to critical burning conditions.