New evacuations ordered in fire north of LA

Associated Press

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire in the mountains north of Los Angeles was slowed by morning overcast Friday, but about 25 homes were evacuated as scattered flames continued to leap hillsides.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies issued evacuation orders for homes along about a mile of San Francisquito Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest north of Castaic. Residents of another 200 homes were allowed to return Thursday night.

Also Friday, a fast-moving blaze in the mountains west of Santa Fe, N.M., prompted evacuations, threatened upscale cabins and vacation homes and closed a highway.

Officials asked residents of about 150 homes and cabins to leave the area as crews battled the 500-acre wildfire near Pecos and the village of Tres Lagunas. New Mexico State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware said the evacuations came after the blaze jumped N.M. Highway 63.

Outside Los Angeles, the 1,400-acre wildfire was 15 percent contained and as many as 500 firefighters hoped to make further progress before the day turned hot and dry, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said.

"Right now the fire's not doing a whole lot. It's just making small runs here and there," he said. "There's no large fire front."

Highs were expected to reach the 90s, which coupled with low humidity and light wind gusts could make for exhausting work on the fire lines, Judy said.

"We'll see what the day brings," he said.

The fire was burning in light grass and brush in an area of small hills and canyons.

Fourteen aircraft were sent to aid firefighters but Judy said there are power lines in the area that could make their work more difficult.

No damage to the lines had been reported.

The blaze broke out at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday just north of Powerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant near the LA aqueduct that has been operating for nearly a century. Judy said it burned an outbuilding. One firefighter was slightly injured by a falling rock.

Seven hikers had been reported missing near the fire, but search teams learned that all had left the area safely on their own, sheriff's Lt. Steve Sylvies told the Los Angeles Times.

In New Mexico, officials believe a downed power line ignited the blaze on private land near Pecos on Thursday. About 200 personnel have been mobilized to fight the fire, along with two helicopters and an air tanker. No injuries have been reported.

Among those evacuated were a group of seventh-graders staying at a campground.

Some homeowners in the Pecos Canyon area couldn't reach their houses Thursday because emergency crews had closed off a highway. Tracy Bennett, manager of the Hidden Valley Ranch, said he evacuated guests and others from the property as soon he saw smoke. He said the ranch lost power Thursday afternoon.

"I got my people out of here," he said. "They were quite alarmed."