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LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE -- A raging brush fire burning in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge is expanding, according to fire officials.

Mandatory evacuations were in effect as 1,800 homes and 52 other buildings are threatened by the fast moving blaze.

By 11:30 p.m. Friday night, fire officials ordered immediate mandatory evacuations for residents to the east of Angeles Crest Highway on Greenridge Drive, Forest Green Drive, Ridge Court and Starlight Crest Drive as fires in the area continue to spread largely out of control, says Kevin Chun, the Director of Administrative Services for La Canada Flintridge.

The Station Fire, which broke out about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday near Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada Flintridge, had grown to 5,100 acres as of late this morning, according to the Angeles National Forest information office.

The blaze was listed as 5 percent contained, and has burned 5,100 acres, according to Inspector Frederic Stowers of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The Station Fire caused closures of Big Tujunga and Arroyo Seco canyons, barring anyone from "going into or being upon National Forest System lands, roads or trails within the closure area," except for people or organizations with special-use permits, said Sherry Rollman of the Angeles National Forest.

The closure area includes state Highway 2, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, as well as other Forest Service roads in the area of the Station Fire.

Authorities began evacuating La Canada Flintridge residents late Thursday, when the fire started spreading in two directions: flames north of the Angeles Crest Ranger Station along Angeles Crest Highway began burning in a southeasterly direction while the fire also started to slide northwest toward Mt. Lukens Truck Trail.

A ranger station is in fire danger as a result of the wind shift, which officials say could mean danger for the city.

If the flames reach the station, Forest Service spokesman Robert Brady said, they would be just a mile from residential neighborhoods in La Cañada Flintridge.

The flames were lapping above Lukens Ridge and were visible to residents in areas below.

About 1,800 homes and 52 other structures were determined to be "threatened," prompting mandatory evacuations in the area north of Vista del Valle Road, east of La Canada Boulevard extending into the La Canada Country Club area, said forest information officer Dianne Cahir.

None of the homes are said to be in imminent danger.

Evacuations were also ordered for Camp High Hill by Red Box and Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center.

The evacuation center previously set up at Crescenta Valley High School was moved early today to La Canada High School at 4463 Oak Grove Drive.

Helicopters crews continued performing water drops overnight while firefighters cut containment lines above La Canada Flintridge in an effort to stop flames from reaching homes.

Four helicopters and an air tanker attacked the Station Fire from the air while some 700 firefighters worked on the ground to establish containment lines.

The blaze had appeared to pose no serious threat to homes in neighboring La Canada Flintridge early Thursday morning, when firefighters were holding it to roughly 20 acres with 20 percent containment. But the hot, dry weather combined with the area's topography to trigger a rapid explosion in the fire's growth, Cahir said.

"There are some very steep canyons in that area that haven't burned in over 60 years," Cahir said. "If there is any gusts of wind in those canyons, it's like a chimney. The brush just goes up in flames and spreads, plus the heat and lack of humidity -- it's really a combination of things."

Cahir said this week's record-setting heat has been of no help to firefighters. "It's just zapping the energy from them," she said.

Roughly 1,600 firefighters, meanwhile, remained assigned to the larger of the two wildfires, the Morris Fire, which broke out late Tuesday afternoon near San Gabriel Canyon Road and the Morris Dam and Reservoir, Cahir said.

As of 9:30 p.m. Friday, that fire had blackened about 2,000 acres and was 85 percent contained, said Rachel Mailo of the U.S. Forest Service.

Mandatory evacuations stemming from the Morris Fire were in place for East Fork Road, and voluntary evacuations were in effect near North Fork San Gabriel River, she said.

An evacuation center was set up at El Robles Intermediate School in Claremont.

Authorities on Thursday ordered the closure of the Angeles National Forest. Only people or organizations with special-use permits were being allowed on National Forest System lands, roads or trails in the area, according to 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, she said.

The forest was under a National Weather Service red flag warning, signifying a high risk of wildfire, until at least 9 tonight.

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Added: Aug-29-2009 Occurred On: Aug-27-2009
By: dwencl
Tags: los angeles, fire, flint ridge, la canada, water drop, helicopters, fire fighting
Views: 8654 | Comments: 6 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 2 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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