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Massive Wildfire Flares Up Near LA, More Evacuations Ordered

Source: Associated Press

Posted on 03 Sep 2009

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Flareup of a massive wildfire in a remote canyon near Los Angeles has caused a new evacuation order to be issued for threatened homes.

John Huschke of the U.S. Forest Service says a score of homes were ordered evacuated at around 4 a.m. Thursday as winds pushed flames into Pacoima Canyon northeast of Los Angeles. The canyon lies in a 5-mile gap in firelines that crews hope to close later in the day.

Elsewhere, crews made good progress overnight against the 219-square-mile fire that has destroyed 64 homes. Authorities say it still threatens 12,000 homes.

Bulldozers continue to carve fire breaks along the southeast flank of another wildfire to keep a flare-up of flames away from thousands of foothill homes in Pasadena and four other communities.

Fire spokeswoman Jennifer Sanchez said the vegetation-clearing construction of containment lines is designed to keep flames in remote mountain areas above the cities. Some 12,000 homes were threatened, she said.

"Dozer lines have been successful. The main focus is to keep the fire from homes near the cities," Sanchez said before dawn.

Additionally, Sanchez said a firefighting force atop Mount Wilson managed to keep flames from reaching communications infrastructure and a historic observatory.

The wildfire, now in its eighth day, has burned 140,150 acres, destroyed 64 homes and left two firefighters dead. The blaze is 28 percent contained, or surrounded, with full containment expected Sept. 15.

Evacuation orders imposed during the fire's peak have been lifted and residents are returning to survey the damage. Many homes were saved, but damaged areas looked like war zones.