Southern California wildfire prompts evacuations

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California wildfire prompted evacuation orders for about 100 homes and other buildings Wednesday as it surged through steep ridges near rural communities north of Los Angeles.

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There were reports that some outbuildings had burned as the blaze raged through the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson said at a nighttime news conference.

In addition, a photograph for The Associated Press showed what may have been a burning home.

No injuries were reported.

The fire was reported shortly after 3:30 p.m. and within a few hours had grown to more than 15.6 square miles (40.4 square kilometers).

The fire was feeding on chaparral and other brush, some of which hadn't burned since 1968, but the flames were moving into heavier forest on top of ridges, county Fire Chief Eric Garcia said.

“It’s pretty explosive fire behavior,” he said.

The fire was moving northeast. More than 100 buildings, including some homes, were included in mandatory evacuation zones in unincorporated areas near Lake Hughes.

Shelter areas were set up but because of COVID-19 concerns, people were being told to shelter in their cars.

About 500 firefighters and 15 helicopters and air tankers were battling the blaze and more firefighters were arriving, Garcia said.

Fire crews and possibly some aircraft will battle the blaze overnight, fire officials said.

The area was expected to see temperatures in the mid-90s or higher through the weekend, with low humidity, but winds remained light.

The fire sent a massive column of smoke thousands of feet in the air. It could be seen dozens of miles away in Los Angeles and other Southern California communities.

The fire was being driven by tinder-dry brush and steep terrain but its ferocity approached that of wind-driven blazes that usually erupt when Santa Ana winds arrive in the next few months, Richardson said.