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11,637-acre Lake Fire flares up Friday, forcing additional evacuations

Fire is only 12% contained as of Friday
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Posted at 2:40 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 21:19:34-04

LAKE HUGHES (CNS) - A fire burning near the Lake Hughes area was 12% contained but experienced a "flare up" due to extreme heat Friday afternoon after already scorching 11,637 acres, destroying five structures and threatening more over the last three days.

"There is a bit of a flare up this afternoon, but we don't really have a ton of information of where that is yet because it's going on right now," a U.S. Forest Service official told City News Service late Friday afternoon.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. Friday, additional evacuations were ordered for the Fairmont area east of Lancaster, where residents were told to evacuate from north of Avenue D/Highway 138, south of Avenue A, west of 150th Street West and east of 200th Street West, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Palmdale Station.

"Fire will continue to grow and threaten the surrounding communities of Lake Hughes, Leona Valley, Lake Elizabeth, Pine Canyon, Quail Lake, Three Points, Historic Ridge Route and Inventoried Roadless Areas, fire officials said during a late-morning update Friday. "Spotting and aggressive fire behavior will continue."

Fanning the flames is this weekend's heat wave, with firefighters braced for dangerously hot weather that will make battling the fire more difficult.

The focus for crews on Friday was "fire suppression, air operations, evacuations as needed and structure defense operations ... line construction where possible," officials said.

No injuries have been reported, but at least five structures have been destroyed and further damage assessments were being conducted.

The fire was first reported at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday near North Lake Hughes Road and Pine Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, according to the U. S. Forest Service, which was battling the blaze with Los Angeles County Fire Department crews and assistance from the Los Angeles, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Monterey Park, Long Beach and Santa Monica fire departments.

"There have been areas of this fire that have not burned in decades, (and) it's in inaccessible terrain, which has added to the complexity of the fire," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby.

Although some structures were lost, a number of structures were saved by firefighters, he said.

"It's going to be a hot, dry summer -- and it's going to be a very, very hot, dry weekend," Osby said.

Mandatory evacuations have been in effect for the area east of Ridge Route Road, west of Lake Hughes Road, north of Pine Canyon Road and Lake Hughes Road, and south of state Route 138, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Ron Shaffer of the Palmdale Station.

There are more than 100 structures in the evacuation area, including primary residences and outbuildings, in the communities of Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon, officials said.

Evacuation centers were set up for displaced residents at Highland High School in Palmdale and the Castaic Sports Complex.

"In this evacuation, unfortunately because of COVID protocols, a shelter is not actually established, people will have to stay in their cars," Shaffer said earlier. People staying in their cars at a center are allowed to have small animals with them.

Animal boarding was made 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.

San Francisquito Canyon Road has been closed from Stater Lane to Spunky Canyon, as well as Three Points Road from State Route 138 to Pine Canyon.

A closure order is limiting public access to Cottonwood, Spunky Canyon, and Sawmill-Liebre campgrounds and, a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail for the safety of firefighters, forest officials said.

More than 1,500 firefighters, along with three helicopters, five water tenders, and 173 engines, were assigned to the firefighting effort.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.