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Crews battle wildfire in Angeles National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service and L.A. County Fire Department are tackling the fire, which started above Azusa and Glendora and has burned at least 250 acres.

August 26, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

Fire crews battled a blaze in rugged terrain in the Angeles National Forest on Tuesday as officials were predicting extreme fire conditions for the next several days in mountain areas of Southern California.

The brush fire broke out about 4:30 p.m. by Morris Dam near California 39, north of Azusa and Glendora, authorities said. Ground and air units from the U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department battled the blaze, which had consumed at least 275 acres by Tuesday evening and was 10% contained.

At one point, 18 Boy Scouts in the fire area were airlifted to safety by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopter, authorities said.

Six aerial tankers and five water-dropping helicopters were trying to douse the flames Tuesday evening on a ridge not far from the highway, the U.S. Forest Service said.

"That's the best place to stop a fire -- on the ridge top," said Forest Service spokesman Robert Brady.

Authorities evacuated campgrounds in the area but said no injuries were reported.

The wildfire, burning in rocky, chaparral-covered terrain, sent smoke billowing across the eastern San Gabriel Valley.

The Forest Service said more than 140 firefighters battled the blaze in 84-degree weather.

Temperatures were forecast to be even higher today, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a red flag warning for extreme fire conditions in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

The alert was set to begin at 6 a.m. today and continue to 9 p.m. Friday. Temperatures in some areas are expected to exceed 100 degrees, and relative humidity will drop below 10%, the Weather Service said.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said it would add personnel to brush patrols, fire engines and water tankers in mountain areas such as Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley.

Fire officials in Ventura County, meanwhile, will have units fully staffed at firehouses in hillside areas.

"Our people are all locked and loaded," said Bill Nash, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

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