High Winds Help Fuel Fire
Fires fanned by strong winds raged through Pine Canyon on Monday, burning more than 1,900 acres and forcing firefighters to dig in for what promised to be several days of battle... The fire was about 20 percent contained at 9 p.m. Monday night.
Smoke from the flames were visible in the Santa Clarita Valley, which is more than 40 miles southwest from the fire.
Northeastern winds reaching up to 23 miles per hour caused the fire to fork in several places and spread in different directions.
Some residents of the sparsely populated state- and federally-owned woodlands between Lancaster and Hungry Valley decided to evacuate.
More than 400 firefighters from Los Angeles County, along with firefighters from Ventura and Kern counties, the city of Los Angeles and the U.S. Forest Service, concentrated on routing the flames from Highway 138 and the structures in the area. At least 100 more firefighters are set to join them today.
“This one’s got a mind of its own,” said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Roy Dull. “It’s early in the season, but it’s doing what it does out there. ...The wind and flashy fuels (are problematic). Potentially, there are structures threatened, but not immediately at this time (late afternoon).”
Dull was not sure how long he or other firefighters would be there.
“Til we’re done,” he said with a shrug.
Locals and their dogs flocked to a cafe at the intersection of Three Points and Pine Canyon roads. Some had voluntarily evacuated, while others were prevented from returning home by a California Highway Patrol roadblock at the intersection.
At about 6 p.m., residents said they were nervous but not frightened.
“I’m not (scared) so much anymore,” said Pine Canyon resident Pat Coster, 70, who sat on the porch of the Three Points Cafe with her dog. “I think we’ll be fine if the wind doesn’t pick up, but it usually picks up at night.”
A half-dozen other residents also gathered at the cafe with their dogs.
“I live where all the smoke’s going,” 46-year-old resident Bindy Gonzalez said, chuckling and pointing down Pine Canyon Road.
Farther up the narrow, winding road, at least one firefighter was being treated by paramedics for heat exhaustion, and emergency vehicles cramped the forest.
“If this wind shifts, we’re all screwed,” said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Joel Harrison. “We have engines at or nearby just about every structure out here. ... We plan to move people if things go awry. It’s rugged country.”