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Angeles Forest Blaze Routs 10,000 Visitors

July 21, 1986|NIESON HIMMEL | Times Staff Writer

Nearly 10,000 weekend campers, hikers, bikers and fishermen were evacuated from the west fork of the San Gabriel River on Sunday, where a fast-moving brush fire consumed about 3,000 acres of brushland in Angeles National Forest and remained out of control.

No injuries were reported in the blaze, which erupted at about 1:30 p.m., and no structures were believed to be in immediate danger. But the California Highway Patrol was forced to close San Gabriel Canyon Road (California 39), about 15 miles north of the Azusa city limits, and the Sheriff's Department evacuated all campgrounds and recreation areas south of Crystal Lake.

Smoke from the blaze, towering above the San Gabriel Mountains, was visible throughout the Los Angeles area for most of the afternoon, as more than 400 Los Angeles County and U.S. Forest Service firefighters, supported by three helicopters and six fixed-wing aircraft fought the flames, which were moving into the San Gabriel wilderness area.

Only Two Trails Into Area

Forest Service spokesman Bob Swinford explained that the fire area has no natural or man-made fire breaks and can be reached only by foot or horse via two trails that do not connect.

Should it become necessary to use tractors to battle the blaze, Swinford added, approval would have to be obtained from the chief of the Forest Service, because motorized equipment is forbidden in the wilderness area.

Meanwhile, less than 20 miles to the east another fire burned about 600 acres of brush near the Cajon Pass, briefly threatening a number of businesses and homes. Forest Service dispatcher Mike Conrad said the fire was reported about 2 p.m. in Lytle Creek Canyon, just above the community of Lytle Creek, and about 400 firefighters were on the lines. Full control of the fire was expected overnight, Conrad said.

Causes of both blazes were under investigation.

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