A brush fire burning near Lake Hughes has consumed 31,089 acres and was 52% contained, authorities said Sunday.
An estimated 1,843 firefighters continued efforts to clear lines of vegetation to contain the flames. They planned to use tactical firing operations to help with that effort as conditions allowed.
“The chance of thunderstorms this afternoon could pose a challenge for firefighters with the potential of lightning strikes, gusty winds, localized flooding and debris flows,” according to a Cal Fire news statement. “Despite winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour during the overnight hours, containment lines have held.”
The fire was expected to continue to grow to the west in areas with no recent fire history and to the north and northwest until it transitions to the lighter high desert fuels of the western Antelope Valley.
Full containment was not expected until Sept. 2.
A flash food watch remained in effect for the interior mountains, Cuyama and Antelope Valleys, from noon until 9 p.m. Sunday, Cal Fire reported.
“Recent burn areas, including the Lake Fire, could experience flooding and debris flows,” according to the agency. “Cloud cover is expected to increase, moderating today’s high temperatures to the upper 80s and 90s, with humidity ranging around 20 to 30 percent.”
Smoke advisories were extended through Sunday for the fire, with elevated fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels due to smoke from wildfires in both Southern and Northern California, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Wildfires also produce chemicals that help to form ozone, which could also contribute to increased ozone levels.
Meanwhile, residents of Pine and Kings canyons, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Lake Fire, will again have the chance to be escorted back into the area Sunday, authorities said.
Residents were also allowed to see their damaged or destroyed homes on Saturday.
The operation happened between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and residents will be “given time to attempt to salvage what you can, and our firefighters will be there to assist you,” according to the U.S. Forest Service. Residents will have the same opportunity between 9 a.m. and noon Sunday.
Only residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed will be permitted in the area. Those seeking access were asked to approach from the east and check in with officials on Pine Canyon Road, just west of Lake Hughes Road, according to the Forest Service.
Residents east of Shafer Road, west of Mountain View Road, south of Highway 138, and north of Pine Canyon Road/Elizabeth Lake Road were able to return to their homes beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, according to an official with the U.S. Forest Service.
“Due to the hard work and effort of the multi-agency firefighting crews, the northeast area of Lake Hughes has been determined to be safe for return and repopulation,” the official said.
Repopulation will not go into effect for residents who live east of Old Ridge Route, west of Shafer Road, south of Highway 138, north of Pine Canyon Road/Elizabeth Lake Road, and on Lake Hughes Road south of Deeswood Drive and north of Dry Gulch Road.
The fire has destroyed 12 structures and 21 outbuildings, damaged six structures and threatens 1,329 others, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury, but details were not disclosed.
The left flank of the fire in the area of Sawmill Mountain, Burnt Peak and Little Burnt Peak is presenting the most challenging fire behavior, the department said, adding containment along Pine Mountain Road continues to be threatened by spot fires.
Road closures remained in place on Three Points Road from state Route 138 to Pine Canyon, Old Ridge Route from Highway 138 to Pine Canyon, and Pine Canyon Road from Ridge Route Road to Lake Hughes Road.
The fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. Aug. 12 near North Lake Hughes Road and Pine Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, according to the U. S. Forest Service, which was battling the blaze with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and assistance from other area departments.
“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 Department Chief Daryl Osby.
The U.S. Forest Service, LACFD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and many other cooperating agencies were working together to battle the fire, with the Incident Command Post located in the Castaic Lake Recreation Area.
Castaic Lake remained closed to public access until further notice. Fire personnel were using the lake and surrounding areas as a base camp.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to help ensure resources to combat multiple fires burning across the state.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.