Firefighters made progress Monday in the effort to put out the 31,089-acre brushfire near Lake Hughes, which has destroyed 12 structures and 21 outbuildings but is 62% contained, and more evacuated residents are about to return home.
At 10 a.m., evacuation orders for residents of Kings Canyon Road east to Shafer Road will be lifted, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Residents can only access the area from Elizabeth Lake Road from the east or Lancaster Road from the north. 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 Friday, according to fire officials.
Residents were not allowed to return home if they 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.
An estimated 1,470 firefighters remained assigned to battling the blaze in some hard to reach places with potentially hazardous conditions. A dozen helicopters made water drops Sunday.
One such hazard is the Yucca plant, fire officials said. When the plant is burned, the pineapple-sized root ball is released from the soil and can roll downhill spreading flames beyond containment lines. Relative humidity in the 50-60% range helped slow the progress of the fire but also hindered efforts by firefighters to set so-called tactical fires to increase control lines, officials said.
The fire was expected to continue growing west in areas with no recent fire history and 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.
Smoke advisories were extended through Monday as a result of the fire, with elevated fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels but the smoke production has decreased and was moving north into the Angeles National Forest but could still impact the Santa Clarita area, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Residents of Pine and Kings canyons, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Lake Fire, were escorted back into the area Saturday and Sunday, authorities said.
In addition to destroying 12 structures and 21 outbuildings, the fire damaged six structures and continued to threaten others, according to incident commanders.
Officials said two people were injured as a result of the fire, but details were not disclosed.
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, LACoFD, 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.