Powerhouse Fire continues to burn in LA

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - Fourteen aircraft and more than 550 firefighters were deployed Friday in a ground and air campaign against a brush fire that has blackened about 1,500 acres in sparsely populated San Francisquito Canyon in the Angeles National Forest northeast of Santa Clarita.

The Powerhouse Fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon, was about 15 percent contained Friday morning, Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service said.

The estimated date of full containment is Wednesday, June 5, said John Wagner, also of the forest service.

Late Friday morning, county health officials warned that air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Gabriel Valley mountains will be unhealthy for sensitive individuals throughout the weekend due to the fire, and they urged residents to take precautions and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.

Seven helicopters and seven fixed-wing air tankers were deployed in the firefighting effort, as were about 550-600 firefighting personnel, Judy said. One firefighter suffered a minor injury overnight but was OK Friday morning, he said.

The firefighters Friday will confront temperature highs in the low 90s, 15-mile-per-hour winds gusting to up to 25 mph on ridgetops, and very low humidity -- 5-7 percent during the day, increasing to 25-30 percent overnight, when temperatures will dip into the low 60s, said National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Seco.

Evacuation orders affecting as many 300 homes in the community of Green Valley near Palmdale were lifted late Thursday night. Authorities were closely monitoring the situation Friday in case the orders would have to be reinstated, Judy said.

Bouquet Canyon and Elizabeth Lake roads were restricted to residents only.

The need for new evacuations could result from a 200-acre spot fire that broke out outside the main fire's perimeter, Judy he said.

The fire was reported along San Francisquito Canyon Road at 3:28 p.m. Thursday, near a hydroelectric plant located close to the L.A. Aqueduct and known as Powerhouse No. 1. Power lines were reported threatened at one point Thursday, but there were no reports of service disruptions, Judy said.

By late Thursday night, the fire had scorched at least 1,000 acres of mostly chaparral-covered terrain. One structure, described as an outbuilding, was destroyed in the blaze, Judy said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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