Hun­dreds evac­u­ate as Cal­i­for­nia wild­fire rushes to­ward houses

Blaze, 20% con­tained, threat­ens 2,000 struc­tures north of L.A.

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Ja­cob Adel­man

PALM­DALE, Calif. — A huge wild­fire in the high desert north of Los An­ge­les jumped an aqueduct on Fri­day, rush­ing to­ward hun­dreds of houses as fire­fight­ers also tried to keep flames from dam­ag­ing power lines that bring elec­tric­ity to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

About 2,000 struc­tures were threat­ened and 300 homes were evac­u­ated, Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

Winds ap­par­ently car­ried em­bers across the wide con­crete chan­nel, with flames rapidly spread­ing to back­yard fences at the edge of Palm­dale. Plumes of smoke streamed across the city of 139,000 as a pre­dicted af­ter­noon in­crease in winds fi­nally ar­rived.

He­li­copters dipped buck­ets into the aqueduct to make rapid wa­ter drops. A gi­ant Boe­ing 747 su­per­tanker ar­rived over Palm­dale to join the bat­tle.

“As you see, we are de­ploy­ing ev­ery­thing that we’ve got,” Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

Sus­tained winds of 10 to 20 mph were re­port- A jumbo jet tanker drops fire re­tar­dant in Palm­dale, Calif., to pro­tect mi­crowave tow­ers Fri­day. Of­fi­cials said that the fire threat­ened sev­eral trans­mis­sion lines but that cus­tomers would not be af­fected. ed, said Los An­ge­les County fire In­spec­tor Matt Levesque.

Most of the homes in the area, how­ever, are of re­cent con­struc­tion with fire-re­sis­tant roofs, stucco walls and boxed eaves and land­scaped with fire-re­sis­tant veg­e­ta­tion, he said. Evac­u­a­tions were not or­dered but were rec­om­mended.

Tem­per­a­tures neared 100 de­grees with sin­gle-digit rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity, and the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice pre­dicted gusts up to 50 mph Fri­day night. The fire had burned more than 20 square miles since erupt­ing Thurs­day af­ter­noon and was 20 per­cent con­tained, Sch­warzeneg­ger said.

Else­where in the bat­tle, air­craft bom­barded flames on ridges above the An­te­lope Val­ley on the south­ern edge of the Mo­jave Desert, while 750 fire­fight­ers work­ing in high heat sought to out­flank the blaze.

“We want to pinch it off and call it done,” Los An­ge­les County fire Capt. An­drew Olvera said.

The blaze spread rapidly af­ter break­ing out Thurs­day, trig­ger­ing overnight evac­u­a­tions of about 2,000 homes in ru­ral ar­eas and down to the western side of Palm­dale.

One house and three mo­bile homes were de­stroyed, an­other house had roof dam­age, and other out­build­ings and garages were lost in the horse coun­try re­gion, au­thor­i­ties said.

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Edi­son said the fire threat­ened five high-volt­age trans­mis­sion lines, but the Cal­i­for­nia grid op­er­a­tor had put ad­di­tional gen­er­a­tion re­sources on­line, and cus­tomers were not ex­pected to be af­fected if the util­ity lost those lines.

Damian Do­var­ganes

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.