Wildfire Near LA Spreads Rapidly, Forces Evacuations

Strong winds drive a wildfire near LA, spreading over 14,000 acres and forcing evacuations. Firefighters battle challenging conditions to contain the flames.

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On Sunday, strong winds drove flames through dry brush in mountains along Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles, and authorities cautioned homeowners in the wildfire’s path to evacuate if it grew in size again.

Los Angeles County’s first significant wildfire of the year quickly spread to more than 14,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of at least 1,200 campers, off-roaders, and hikers from the Hungry Valley leisure area.

A Southern California wildfire doubled in size overnight.

The conflagration, known as the Post Fire, was just 2% controlled. There were no injuries recorded. The reason was being investigated.

Firefighters laboring in hot circumstances and steep terrain rushed to put out spot fires that started as erratic winds drove embers ahead of the flames, according to Kenichi Haskett, a division chief with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The winds also impeded airplane operators’ attempts to drop water and fire retardant, he said.

“When it’s windy, it simply sprays water where we don’t want it. So that’s a difficulty,” Haskett said.

Meanwhile, in Northern California, workers were safeguarding buildings from a small wildfire that broke out Sunday, prompting evacuation orders and warnings for a sparsely inhabited region of vineyards and rural estates near Lake Sonoma.

The so-called Point Fire produced a massive column of black smoke as fierce northwest winds carried flames into brush and forest approximately 80 miles north of San Francisco. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that it was 15% containment.

Southern California’s Post Fire began Saturday afternoon along I-5 in Gorman, some 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Two buildings burnt in the evacuated recreation area.

Flames were heading toward Pyramid Lake, a popular boating area that had been closed as a precaution on Father’s Day. No homes were endangered Sunday, but authorities cautioned some Castaic residents, who number about 19,000, to prepare to evacuate if the fire spreads further south.

“If you’re in a danger zone, bring a ‘go bag,’ which should include your smartphone, medications, and glasses. “Make sure your car is fueled,” Haskett added. “Be ready to evacuate.”

Low humidity and gusts of up to 50 mph were forecast throughout the day, with winds picking up after dusk, according to the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles.

The Hesperia Fire, which began Saturday near mountain towns in San Bernardino County, triggered road closures and prompted evacuation advisories. The fire burnt 1,100 acres and was 20% controlled on Sunday.

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