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Powerhouse fire has destroyed at least five homes

June 01, 2013|By Jack Leonard, Ruben Vives and Rosanna Xia
  • A water-dropping helicopter hovers above the Powerhouse Fire on Friday.
A water-dropping helicopter hovers above the Powerhouse Fire on Friday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The fast-moving Powerhouse fire has destroyed five homes in the Lake Hughes area as water-dropping helicopters are trying to douse the flames, a county fire official said.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Keith Mora said the destroyed homes were north of Elizabeth Lake Road. Two county fire helicopters and one supplied by Los Angeles city were dropping water on the blaze, he said.

Mora said 975 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the blaze, which had already caused three minor injuries to firefighters and destroyed one outbuilding before the fire began to spread rapidly late Saturday.

PHOTOS: Powerhouse fire

The blaze had charred more than 5,600 acres and was only 20% contained, he said.

The fire was fueled Saturday by 100-degree temperatures and shifting winds, forcing evacuations in the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth areas. 

The Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s departments ordered evacuations Saturday evening from San Francisquito Canyon Road up to Elizabeth Lake Road and areas south of Lake Hughes Road.

A Red Cross evacuation center was set up at the Marie Kerr Park recreation center at 2723-A Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale. An evacuation site for large animals has been set up at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 2551 West Ave. H in Lancaster.

MAP: Evacuation areas, road closures and more

Officials had worried that hot weather and winds Saturday could drive the fire toward homes.

Temperatures in the fire zone were topping 100 degrees, with relative humidity in the single digits. “It’s going to be very hot and dry with not a whole lot of wind,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sukup in Oxnard.

Beginning Sunday, conditions should start to improve, Sukup said. “Relative humidity should be increasing as the marine layer returns tomorrow,” he said. Sunday’s highs in the fire zone are forecast to be in the upper 80s and low 90s, with about 20% to 30% relative humidity.

The flames are chewing through dried-out brush and chaparral in the steep, rugged terrain not far from Castaic Lake.

In addition to the firefighters, 10 fixed-wing aircraft and eight air tankers were battling the blaze, which broke out shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday near a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power station in San Francisquito Canyon near Drinkwater Reservoir, officials said.

FULL COVERAGE: Powerhouse fire


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