A brush fire continues to rage after scorching thousands of acres in the Angeles National Forest between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, north of Los Angeles. The blaze, dubbed the Lake Fire, has prompted evacuation orders and road closures in the Lake Hughes area, CBS Los Angeles reports.
The fire was reported at 3:38 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Around 4 p.m., officials said the fire was roughly 50 acres. About two hours later, flames quickly spread to about 10,000 acres.
The blaze grew to 11,000 acres Thursday night with 5% containment, the LA County Sheriff’s Department said. More than 5,000 structures were also threatened.
“This will be a major fire for several days,” Angeles National Forest fire chief Robert Garcia told reporters at a Thursday morning briefing.
A heat wave is expected to hit the region Friday through Monday, bringing with it challenging conditions for firefighters.
Fire officials said the blaze is unusual since it developed early in the fire season and spread as rapidly as it did without strong winds. It’s also a history-making event due to some of the areas catching fire for the first time since 1968.
“It’s pretty explosive fire behavior,” said Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia. “It’s typically what we see a little bit later in the season and often driven by wind. The fuel, moisture conditions and the fire at this particular location with the slope, it really created the recipe for rapid fire growth.”
Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson told The Associated Press the fire was being driven by tinder-dry brush and steep terrain but was as fierce as blazes pushed by the Santa Ana winds that arrive in about a month.
High temperatures in the mid-90s and low humidity will bring elevated fire weather conditions to the mountains and Antelope Valley as crews continue to battle the flames, officials said.
The Lake Fire’s cause hasn’t been determined. No injuries have been reported.
More than 1,000 personnel have responded.
Several teams — including crews from Angeles National Forest, and the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, Culver City, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica fire departments — were working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to evacuate residents near the fire.
Several mandatory evacuation orders, covering approximately 100 homes, were issued.
An evacuation center was set up at Highland High School in Palmdale. Due to coronavirus restrictions, officials said evacuees will have to remain in their vehicles outside the school.
Homeowner Kenny Reynolds told CBS LA that his house was mostly destroyed and his property scorched.
“There was a big wall of flame, kind of came over a little quicker than we thought, usually it comes a lot slower, or last time it came a lot slower,” Reynolds said, referring to 2013’s Powerhouse Fire, which broke out in the Angeles National Forest and destroyed several dozen homes.
Reynolds said he barely had time to evacuate, as fire tornadoes formed on hillsides around his home.
“Stayed as long as we could, but it was kind of surrounding the house, and me and the neighbors evacuated as flames kind of engulfed his house,” Reynolds said.