Tags: la | wildfire | evacuations

LA Wildfire Forces Evacuations as Blaze Burns 1,700 Acres

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 07:53 PM

By David Ogul

A fast-moving wildfire near Los Angeles fed by the dreaded Southern California triumvirate of high winds, dry conditions, and rising temperatures has destroyed two homes, burned more than 1,700 acres and forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents east of L.A.

Three men were in custody after allegedly starting a campfire that sparked the massive blaze, The New York Times said.

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A red flag warning will remain through Friday, with Santa Ana conditions keeping temperatures well into the 80s until Saturday, when the highs are expected to drop by just a few degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

For Los Angeles and much of Southern California, 2013 was the driest calendar year on record. Last summer and fall, typically the most dangerous time of the year for wildfires, were relatively mild, but the past several days has been unusually warm and windy.

The Los Angeles Times said mandatory evacuations were in place for a wide swath near the San Gabriel mountains. Authorities say the fire is moving especially fast for this time of year and are urging people to leave immediately if told to evacuate.

Reuters said more than 550 firefighters were involved in the effort within hours after the fire broke out. The fire was burning in steep terrain up against the mountains. “The topography is just really dangerous,” Keith Mora, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said, according to Reuters.

The fire is nowhere near being contained, let alone being under control. The local NBC 4 station said the fire was estimated at about 30 acres at 6 a.m. and 125 acres by 7:45. Some two hours later, the flames had consumed 1,700 acres.

One resident told NBC 4 that wind-blown embers are “torching everything they touch.”

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