Crown Fire: Crews Near Full Containment

Fire officials investigate the cause of the Crown fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    A spotter airplane flies past as California Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority fire crews use bulldozers to clear a safety path at Hauser Peak to protect microwave towers, right, in Palmadale, Calif. on Friday, July 30, 2010. Efforts are concentrating on protecting the densely populated Palmdale area a few miles away and a cluster of power transmission lines that provide electricity to much of Southern California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Firefighters say higher humidity and lower temperatures have helped them nearly contain the Crown fire. 

    It was 87-percent contained Sunday and crews hope to have it fully surrounded by Monday evening.

    On Friday, four homes and five outbuildings had been destroyed, and 2,500 structures were considered threatened by the fire, according to Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Fred Stowers.

    Residents of 500 homes in Rancho Vista were told Friday evening to remain in their homes and heed any future warnings until further notice, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.

    "We still need the roads clear, we don't need traffic jams," said Padilla Friday night. "There are still active fire, hot spots and uncontained fire in the area."

    The Crown fire, which broke out about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, sent flames leaping 50 feet at times and prompted evacuations of more than 2,000 people in Leona Valley, Anaverde and Rancho Vista. The fire spread rapidly, aided by steep slopes in some area and winds gusting to 50 mph at times.

    The fire was believed to be sparked accidently by workers that were "working on a tire rim to remove that rim,'' said Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Bryant.

    "They were using a hammer to try to get the bolts loose, and that's what the investigation is really focusing on right now," said Bryant Friday.

    On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the command post in Palmdale.

    "We were very fortunate to not have fires for quite some time because the air temperature was cool and we didn't have the experiencing of dry weather and all the winds and so on, but all of a sudden the fire season kicked in as if, 'Here we are,'" said Schwarzenegger. "But we are ready and we have luckily distributed resources all over the state of California, so we are ready at any given time."

    An aggressive aerial attack Friday included five tanker planes, a converted DC-10 and a converted 747, and six water-dropping helicopters.

    Earlier Friday, Southern California Edison officials said there were 21 customers without power south of Elizabeth Lake Road.

    The Crown Fire continues to threaten Edison transmission and distribution lines, said Edison officials.