Firefighters Thursday continued working to extinguish a wildfire that scorched 10,500 acres in the Lake Hughes area and prompted evacuations of at least 100 structures, but cautioned that the firefighting effort likely would continue into next week.
The Lake Fire was reported at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday near North Lake Hughes Road and Pine Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest and was 0% contained as of 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which was battling the blaze with Angeles National Forest crews, as well as assistance from the Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Monterery Park, Long Beach and Santa Monica fire departments.
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, the fire’s size was listed as 10,500 acres, with three structures destroyed and 5,420 threatened, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No injuries have been reported.
A federal incident management team was mobilizing Thursday for involvement in the multi-agency incident command structure, officials said at a 9 a.m. Thursday briefing.
“There have been areas of this fire that have not burned in decades, (and) it’s in inaccessible terrain, which has added to the complexity of the fire,” said Los Angeles County fire Chief Daryl Osby.
“We had firefighters fighting the fire all night, primarily with perimeter control,” Osby said. He said that although some structures were lost, a number of structures were saved by firefighters.
Osby said “significant temperatures” were expected later in the day, and he said that the firefighting effort would likely extend into next week.
“It’s going to be a hot, dry summer — and it’s going to be a very, very hot, dry weekend,” Osby said.
On Wednesday, the fire west of Palmdale had a “rapid rate of spread,” amid temperatures in the mid-90s, low humidity and gusty winds, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The forest service and county fire departments quickly called in second-alarm responses.
The fire “will continue to grow and threaten the surrounding communities of Lake Hughes, Leona Valley, Lake Elizabeth, Pine Canyon and Three Points,” the Los Angeles County Fire Department said about 10 p.m. Wednesday, adding air operations would continue overnight.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the flames had burned 400 acres, and officials said the fire had the potential to burn 1,000 acres, according the department. That quickly changed two hours later, when the flames exploded across an estimated 10,000 acres, with no containment.
The fire was entirely on federal land, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for an area east of Ridge Route Road, west of Lake Hughes Road, north of Pine Canyon Road and Lake Hughes Road, and south of SR138, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Ron Shaffer of the Palmdale Station.
More than 100 structures were affected in the evacuation area, including primary residences and outbuildings, in the communities of Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon, officials said.
Evacuation centers were set up for displaced residents at Highland High School, 39055 25th Street West in Palmdale; and at the Castaic Sports Complex, 31230 Castaic Road in Castaic.
“In this evacuation, unfortunately because of COVID protocols, a shelter is not actually established, people will have to stay in their cars,” Shaffer said earlier. People staying in their cars at a center are allowed to have small animals with them.
Animal boarding was made available at Castaic Animal Care Center, Lancaster Animal Care Center, Palmdale Animal Care Center and the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, according to the American Red Cross Los Angeles.
By 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, the flames had jumped Pine Canyon Road, two miles west of Lake Hughes Road, and shortly after, flames were seen on aerial footage burning structures that appeared to be homes in the area.
The California Highway Patrol set up road closures throughout the area, including the following: San Francisquito Canyon Road was closed at Spunky Canyon Road, Pine Canyon Road at Three Points Road and Lake Hughes Road, Three Points Road at Highway 138, Old Ridge Route at Highway 138 and Lake Hughes Road at Ridge Route Road.
More than 1,000 firefighters, along with three helicopters, five water tenders, and 173 engines, were assigned to the firefighting effort Thursday.
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