Residents evacuated as wildfire burns in forest east of Los Angeles

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 16, 2014 1:12 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Firefighters rushed to gain control of a fast-moving wildfire in the mountainous Angeles National Forest in an area east of Los Angeles on Thursday that has damaged at least one home and led to the evacuation of nearby residents, a fire official said.

The blaze broke out about an hour before sunrise in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora and quickly spread to 125 acres, Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Keith Mora said. Glendora is located about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, near the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest.

Firefighters have so far been unable to build containment lines against the flames. In addition to damaging one home, the fire has forced the closure of Citrus College, a community college about 2 miles from the flames, Mora said.

Police have gone door-to-door in Glendora neighborhoods near the fire to tell residents to leave their homes. Mora said he could not immediately provide any estimates on how many residents were forced to flee.

"Early this morning, when it broke out, it burned really rapidly and it does appear like it's laying down right now," Mora said, in noting that the fire is not spreading as fast as it had been. "We're just trying to gain control prior to the heat-up in the afternoon."

Firefighters deployed eight helicopters and two SuperScooper airplanes to drop fire retardant on the flames. More than 550 firefighters are involved in the effort, Mora said.

The fire is burning in steep terrain, with houses built right up to the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains and some isolated homes nestled in the brush where the fire is burning, Mora said. "The topography is just really dangerous," he said.

The cause of the fire, which the Los Angeles County Fire Department is combating in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, is under investigation.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)