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New Fire Spreads in Angeles Forest

Firefighting: As Gorman blaze dies, crews turn their attention to one in Big Tujunga Canyon.

June 21, 2002|WENDY THERMOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As firefighters smothered the last embers of the 1,500-acre Gorman fire on Thursday in the Angeles National Forest, a new wildfire spread rapidly in the Big Tujunga Canyon area of the forest.

Aided by a stiff breeze, the second blaze grew quickly to 100 acres after being spotted at 4 p.m. near a U.S. Forest Service ranger station on Big Tujunga Canyon Road.

The remoteness of the area, about 15 miles northwest of Los Angeles in rugged canyon country, made it difficult to get fire crews there, but helicopters made water drops soon after the blaze broke out, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Gail Wright.

The causes of the fires were under investigation.

"What we're up against is such incredibly dry fuel and hot weather," Wright said.

Earlier, firefighters had "a favorable day" controlling the Gorman fire, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, said Kathy Peterson of the forest service.

By Thursday evening, the Gorman fire was 90% contained, and crews were mopping up hot spots. The cost of fighting the fire, which began Tuesday afternoon, was estimated at $800,000 to $1.2 million.

With several wildfires being fought around California and others raging in the West, officials said firefighting crews are spread thin.

"We're drawn down so low, we have very few people left to send to Big Tujunga Canyon," Wright said. "They're dispatching people from anywhere around, whoever's not out on a fire."

Elsewhere in California, the Bluecut fire in San Bernardino County was 75% contained Thursday at 7,750 acres. About 1,000 firefighters remained on the scene, and full containment is expected today at 6 p.m. The fire started near Interstate 15 on Sunday.

In Santa Barbara County, the Sudden Ranch fire burning on Vandenberg Air Force Base was 100% contained Thursday after consuming 7,782 acres.

Further north, lightning strikes hindered firefighting efforts on the Cannon fire near Yosemite National Park, which grew to 22,000 acres. Three firefighters were killed earlier this week fighting that blaze when their air tanker crashed in a field near the town of Walker.

That fire, which began Saturday, was only 15% contained Thursday, and parts of California 395 were still closed.

*

Times staff writer Jessica Garrison contributed to this report.

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