Lake Fire: Blaze in Lake Hughes area of Los Angeles County rages, forces evacuations

Posted at 7:36 AM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 19:07:55-04

LAKE HUGHES, Calif. (CNS) - Helicopters made water-dropping sorties Thursday morning on fast-moving, out-of-control wildfire, which was 0% contained after scorching 10,500 acres in the Lake Hughes area, prompting the mandatory evacuation of at least 100 structures.

The Lake Fire was reported at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday near North Lake Hughes Road and Pine Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, according to Marvin Lim of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which was battling the blaze along with Angeles National Forest crews, as well as assistance from the Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Monterery Park and Santa Monica fire departments.

ABC 10News learned teams from Rancho Santa Fe, Vista Fire, San Miguel Fire, Lakeside Fire, Oceanside Fire, Camp Pendleton, Pala Reservation, San Pasqual, and likely San Diego Fire-Rescue were dispatched to assist in the firefighting effort.

Three San Diego County strike teams will also respond, with each team bringing five trucks.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the fire's size was listed as 10,500 acres, with three structures destroyed and 5,420 threatened, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No injuries have been reported.

The fire west of Palmdale had a "rapid rate of spread," amid temperatures in the mid-90s, low humidity and gusty winds, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The forest service and county fire departments quickly called in second-alarm responses.

The fire "will continue to grow and threaten the surrounding communities of Lake Hughes, Leona Valley, Lake Elizabeth, Pine Canyon and Three Points," the Los Angeles County Fire Department said about 10 p.m. Wednesday, adding air operations would continue overnight.

By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the flames had burned 400 acres, and officials said the fire had the potential to burn 1,000 acres, according the department. That quickly changed two hours later, when the flames exploded across an estimated 10,000 acres, with no containment.

The fire was entirely on federal land as of 6:30 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Mandatory evacuation orders were in place.

"Currently there are over 100 structures within the evacuation area, to include primary residences and outbuildings within the communities of Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon," said County Fire's Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations David Richardson, adding firefighters were expected to remain on scene for several days.

Evacuation centers were set up for displaced residents at Highland High School, 39055 25th Street West in Palmdale; and at the Castaic Sports Complex, 31230 Castaic Road in Castaic..
"In this evacuation, unfortunately because of COVID protocols, a shelter is not actually established, people will have to stay in their cars," said Sgt. Ron Schaffer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

People staying in their cars at the center are allowed to have small animals with them.

Animal boarding was available at Castaic Animal Care Center, Lancaster Animal Care Center, Palmdale Animal Care Center and the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, according to the American Red Cross Los Angeles.

By 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, the flames had jumped Pine Canyon Road, two miles west of Lake Hughes Road, and shortly after, flames were seen on aerial footage burning structures that appeared to be homes in the area.

Fire officials could not confirm an ABC7 report Wednesday that homes had started to burn, instead saying structures were threatened.

The California Highway Patrol set up road closures throughout the area. San Francisquito Canyon Road was closed at Spunky Canyon Road, Pine Canyon Road at Three Points Road and Lake Hughes Road, Three Points Road at Highway 138, Old Ridge Route at Highway 138 and Lake Hughes Road at Ridge Route Road, the CHP reported.

More than 1,000 firefighters, along with three helicopters, five water tenders, and 173 engines, were assigned to the firefighting effort Thursday.