Wildfire triggers evacuation of hundreds of homes in Southern California

A California wildfire forced hundreds of homes to evacuate, as it raged mostly unchecked across heavily forested mountains north of Los Angeles that last burned around 50 to 100 years ago, fire officials said on Thursday. Since erupting Wednesday afternoon near Lake Hughes in the Angeles National Forest, the blaze has scorched some 10,500 acres (4,249 hectares). It remained at zero percent containment as from Thursday afternoon, despite a light morning rain over the city, U.S. Andrew Mitchell, spokesman for the forest service said.

“This will be a major fire for several days,” U.S. Forest Service regional Fire Chief Robert Garcia told reporters. The exact cause of the blaze, called the Lake Fire, was under investigation, but human activity was likely to blame, Mitchell said. No injuries have been confirmed but the blaze triggered the mandatory evacuation of some 500 homes in communities about 40 miles (65 km) north of downtown Los Angeles, Mitchell said.

Thick, incredibly dry vegetation, some of which hasn’t been burned in about a century, fuelled the flames that rapidly roared up steep canyons and hillsides, he said. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said many buildings had been destroyed by the flames, but others were spared “because of the firefighters’ actions last night, who were up all night.” Firefighters had zero containment, and a power plant and other suburban subdivisions were threatened with fire, officials said.