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1 Fire Wanes, Another Ignites

Los Angeles

With the Pine blaze more than 50% contained, evacuees return home. But flames threaten 90 homes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

July 18, 2004|Jean Guccione and David Haldane | Times Staff Writers

While hundreds of evacuated residents returned to their Lake Hughes-area homes Saturday, others were being ordered to leave the southern Santa Clarita Valley, where a separate 2,800-acre wildfire closed a freeway and threatened 90 homes.

Six hundred firefighters had the Foothill fire in Santa Clarita 30% controlled by 9:30 p.m., said Ron Haralson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The blaze started at 11:49 a.m. near the junction of the Antelope Valley and Golden State freeways. The 14 was closed in both directions between the 5 and Via Princessa for nearly six hours, with both sides reopening about 7 p.m., Haralson said.

The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at College of the Canyons for residents who left their Sand Canyon and Placerita Canyon homes Saturday afternoon.

The Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center was also evacuated. And 30 horses from the private Rancho del Sierra stables were moved.

"We definitely want to think ahead and be proactive," Haralson said. "But we definitely want to keep these fires away from homes or businesses."

The blaze was started when a red-tail hawk, electrocuted by a power line, fell to the ground and ignited the brush, said Ed Littler, an investigator for the U.S. Forest Service.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 firefighters continued battling the 6-day-old Pine fire, which destroyed four homes and blackened 15,988 acres in northwest Los Angeles County.

"Today was a good day for us," said Kern County Fire Capt. Tony Plant. The fire was 54% contained by midday, and some firefighters were being pulled off the line and sent to join the Santa Clarita effort. "It could be one of those seasons," Plant said.

Elsewhere in the state, nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes southwest of Hemet in Riverside County in what is being called the Melton fire.

The blaze, in the unincorporated Sage area, was reported at 2:47 p.m. Saturday, fire spokesman Patrick Chandler said.

The Verbenia fire, which burned across nearly 4,000 acres west of Palm Springs, was fully contained Saturday evening. And at Yosemite National Park, some of the most popular trails reopened after being closed several days because of a wildfire that funneled smoke into the park's scenic valley.

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