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Southern California wildfire explodes overnight; evacuations ordered

Updated August 13, 2020 - 8:36 am

LOS ANGELES — Crews struggled Thursday to rein in a Southern California wildfire that exploded in size in a matter of hours north of Los Angeles, prompting evacuation orders for about 100 homes and other buildings, as it tore through forest land.

The fire erupted Wednesday afternoon and burned through more than 15.6 square miles, driving through brushy ridges, including some in areas that hadn’t burned since 1968, fire officials said.

As of 9:06 a.m. Thursday there was 0% containment on the fire that had burned 10,500 acres, according to Cal Fire.

A photograph taken for The Associated Press showed what appeared to be a burning home.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson said some outbuildings may have been destroyed.

Moving into heavy forest

The fire erupted in the afternoon but by nightfall was moving into heavier forest, making it harder to fight, county Fire Chief Eric Garcia said.

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

The fire zone was located between Lake Hughes and Lake Castaic in the Angeles National Forest.

500 firefighters, more arriving

About 500 firefighters from several departments and 15 helicopters and air tankers worked the blaze and more firefighters were arriving, Garcia said.

Shelter areas were designated for people and animals, but because of COVID-19 concerns, people were being told to shelter in their cars.

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.

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.

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