Brush Fires Send Smoke Over LA Basin

By John Cadiz Klemack
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:57 PM PDT
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Brush Fire Grows to 750 Acres

Mark J. Terrill, AP

Firefighters climb a ridge during a forest fire Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, in the Angeles National Forest. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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Brush Fire Grows to 750 Acres

A brush fire breaks out in the Angeles National Forest.
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San Gabriel Canyon in the Angeles National Forest was closed Thursday because of two brush fires burning in the area, and some mandatory evacuations were in effect, forest officials said.

The Morris Fire, which broke out late Tuesday afternoon near San Gabriel Canyon Road and the Morris Dam and Reservoir, scorched about 1,800 acres and was 45 percent contained, said Rachel Mailo of the U.S. Forest Service. Voluntary evacuations were in effect for residents living above Valley of the Moon.

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The Station Fire, which broke out about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday near Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada Flintridge, was 300 acres and 10 percent contained. Camp High Hill and Clear Creek School were under mandatory evacuations.

Five helicopters and an air tanker attacked the Station Fire from the air while some 200 firefighters worked on the ground to establish containment lines, fire officials said.

Under the forest closure, which went into effect at 2 p.m., "going into or being upon National Forest System lands, roads or trails in the area will not be allowed," except for people or organizations with special-use permits, said Sherry Rollman, of the Angeles National Forest.

The closure includes State Route 39, Glendora Mountain Road and East Fork Road and will remain in effect until the Morris Fire has been fully contained, Rollman said.

A violation of the order is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months or both, Rollman said.

Exempt from the order are people or organizations holding "special use permits for sanctioned activities within the forest," Rollman said.

Some 1,200 firefighters have been battling the two wildfires, which also prompted the evacuation of East Fork Road in the Camp Williams area, where there is a mobile home park and a cafe. Fifteen residents were affected by the order, said Jennifer Sanchez of the Angeles National Forest. An evacuation center was set up at El Robles Intermediate School in Claremont.

Highway 39 and Glendora Mountain Road will remain closed while fire crews battle the blaze, Sanchez added.

Angeles Forest Highway, which goes to Palmdale, was to remain closed due to the blaze, Sanchez said, but Angeles Crest Highway, which was blocked out of La Canada Flintridge, was expected to re-open today.

Fire officials believe the fires, fueled by bone-dry vegetation, will take a couple days to fully contain.

"It depends on the weather and what kind of progress they make on fire line construction," said Bruce Quintelier of the Angeles National Forest.

The only injuries reported so far were two firefighters stung by bees, according to fire officials.

Because of dry and hot conditions, the forest is under a Red Flag warning signifying a high risk of wildfire into Friday night.

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