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Fire Burns 300 Acres, Closes the I-5

June 26, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

The first large fire of the season in Angeles National Forest burned 300 acres Friday and forced the closure of Interstate 5 for much of the afternoon.

With winds blowing at a relatively calm 8 mph, the chaparral-fed blaze, east of the freeway at Osito Canyon, was 80% contained by early evening, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Roger Richcreek. Full containment was expected early today, he said.

About 100 firefighters were expected to battle the blaze through the night, he said.

Authorities believe the fire was started by people, and an investigation was underway, Richcreek said.

Interstate 5 was closed about 1:15 p.m., northbound at Parker Road and southbound at Templin Highway, said Brian Joy of the California Highway Patrol. By 5 p.m., all but one southbound lane had been reopened, he said.

Angeles National Forest typically has about 50 to 60 such blazes during the summer, Richcreek said.

But the major fires usually come in September, when conditions in the forest are at their worst, Richcreek said.

This season "the potential for fires to be like last year or worst is certainly there," he said, referring to last year's record-setting wildfires. Chaparral in the region has adapted to the frequent blazes and can regrow in a month or two, he said.

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