CASTAIC (CBSLA) — Firefighters faced hot temperatures Thursday as they continued to make strong progress against a large blaze that erupted in the Castaic area Wednesday afternoon and briefly forced hundreds of people to flee their homes.
Fire officials said the blaze was likely a preview of what's to come this season due to the heat and extremely dry and volatile fuels.
"This year is kind of shaping up to be another potentially dangerous year," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie said. "What we've seen is the lack of rain over the wintertime really affecting the fuels or the brush out here in California and, with that, you get the potential for a repeat of what we saw last year."
As of Thursday evening, the North Fire had burned 552 acres and was 50% contained, according to the latest numbers for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
All evacuation orders had been lifted. The fire was initially reported at 650 acres, but was downgraded.
According to the National Weather Service, the Southland is under an elevated fire danger through Saturday amid warm, dry conditions and gusty northeast winds.
"Crews today face high temps, low relative humidity and at times gusty conditions," the LACFD tweeted Thursday morning.
The North Fire was first reported as a one-acre brush fire burning uphill in the 29000 block of The Old Road at 1:34 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The blaze quickly grew, and within several hours, it had exploded and was threatening residential neighborhoods.
Moderate winds pushed the flames east, and the blaze narrowly missed an apartment complex. A large plume of smoke could be seen by drivers on the 5 Freeway.
At around 6:30 p.m., mandatory evacuation orders were issued for several areas, including residents north and west of West Hills Drive, north of Iron Village Drive, north and west of Tesoro Del Valle and north of Copper Hill Drive.
L.A. County Sheriff's deputies went through neighborhoods with loudspeakers, asking people to leave.
"The flames were probably about 600 yards from my home, within two minutes they were like right outside my home," resident Mark Preeze told CBSLA Wednesday night. "And the police were advising everybody to evacuate. And we did, we just grabbed a bag, and we ran."
However, by 10 p.m., forward progress on the North Fire was halted and all evacuation orders were lifted, the fire department reported.
No homes had been damaged as of early Thursday morning. There was no word of any injuries.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
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