Lake fire grows to nearly 26,000 acres amid high temperatures, rugged terrain

A wildfire burning near Lake Hughes in steep and rugged terrain and fueled by bone-dry vegetation and drought-stressed trees is 38% contained Wednesday morning after charring 25,948 acres, fire commanders said.

Firefighters are dealing with high temperatures — between 98 and 110 degrees. An excessive heat warning will be in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday.

A reassessment of the fire’s size was announced after daybreak Wednesday, when fire officials said 1,904 firefighters were deployed in the effort to extinguish the flames.The fire has moved farther into the Angeles National Forest, toward 100-year-old bigcone Douglas fir, oak and gray pine trees.

Since it began on Aug. 12, the fire has destroyed 12 structures and 21 outbuildings, damaged three structures and threatened 4,570 others, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Full containment is not expected until Sept. 2.

One person has been injured, but details of the injury 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 will continue to be threatened by spot fires.

Firefighters are also aware of long-range spotting, a fire behavior that produces sparks or embers, which are then carried by the wind, sparking new fires outside fire lines, the department said.

“Crews will watch for fire whirls, or fire devils, a spinning vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising from a fire,” the department said in a statement.

Fire commanders reported Tuesday that 1,904 firefighters were battling the blaze, along with 13 helicopters, 22 water tenders and 213 engines.

Evacuations remained in effect in the following areas: Lake Hughes Road west of Pine Canyon and north of Dry Gulch Road, east of Ridge Route Road, west of Lake Hughes Road and Fire Station 78, north of Pine Canyon and Lake Hughes Road, and south of state Route 138.

The American Red Cross said it would set up an additional evacuation center at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds for people and small animals in Lancaster, if needed, and would also provide virtual assistance to affected residents. Large animals were being taken to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds.

San Francisquito Canyon Road was reopened Monday, but 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.

Poor air quality in and around the area of the fire was expected to affect the public and first responders.

The fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday 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 Los Angeles County Fire Department crews and assistance from the Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Monterey Park, Long Beach and Santa Monica fire 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.

Although some structures were lost, a number of structures were saved by firefighters, he said.

The Angeles National Forest, 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 remains closed to public access until further notice. Fire personnel are using the lake and surrounding areas as a base camp.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to help ensure resources to combat multiple fires burning across the state.

“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Newsom said.

“California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions.”

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