Southern California Wildfire Containment Doubles Overnight

June 3, 2013

Firefighters working in darkness doubled containment of a massive wildfire north of Los Angeles to 40 percent overnight, as cool, moist air moved in Monday.

The fire, which has fed on old brush that hasn’t burned in decades, grew, however the moderating weather conditions gave crews the opportunity to make major gains, U.S. Forest Spokesman Matt Correlli said.

Firefighters were able halt the progress of the fire’s northeastern front, which had been moving into unoccupied desert lands north of Angeles National Forest.

Crews remained in place to protect structures in the rural hamlets of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, but flames were moving away from residential areas.

The blaze has burned about 46 square miles in mountain and canyons areas, destroying at least six houses and damaging 15 more.

The fire was fueled in part by chaparral that was “extremely old and dry” and hadn’t burned since 1929, U.S. Forest Service Incident Commander Norm Walker said Sunday at a news conference.

More than 2,800 people and 700 homes were under evacuation orders that were expected to last until late Monday or Tuesday.

About 2,100 firefighters took on the flames, aided by water-dropping aircraft, including three helicopters that stayed aloft through the night.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Three firefighters had minor injuries, but no one else was hurt.

Winds of about 25 mph and gusting as high as 40 mph had created “havoc” for firefighters for much of Sunday, LA County Deputy Chief David Richardson said.

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