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Huge Lake Fire threatens thousands of homes north of Los Angeles

Extreme wildfire rips through California
Extreme wildfire rips through California 01:47

Crews scrambled to protect homes from a huge wildfire, dubbed the Lake Fire, that prompted evacuations north of Los Angeles and officials warned the blaze could flare up again as a blistering heat wave descended on California. It burned several homes, reports CBS Los Angeles.

The fire exploded in size within hours after it broke out in dense forest in the Angeles National Forest between Santa Clarita and Palmdale Wednesday afternoon, sending up a towering plume visible for hundreds of miles around.

Flames from the Lake Fire raced across ridges and steep slopes, including in some areas that hadn't burned since 1968, fire officials said. On Friday, it was threatening over 5,400 homes and spanned more than 11,600 acres, with 12% containment.

Friday's forecast called for hot, dry weather with "near critical" fire conditions because of possible gusty winds, a fire update said Thursday night.

"This will be a major fire for several days," said Chief Robert Garcia with the U.S. Forest Service.

The heat wave was expected to last through the weekend, bringing triple-digit temperatures and extreme fire danger to large parts of California.

About 100 rural homes were evacuated in the Lake Hughes area of the national forest, some 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Preliminary damage assessments found that at least three structures burned, but authorities warned the toll would likely be higher. No injuries were reported. 

Wildfire burns north of Los Angeles
The frame of a car stands burned as a fast-moving wildfire, called the Lake Fire, burns in a mountainous area of Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles on U.S. August 13, 2020. PATRICK T. FALLON / REUTERS

Evacuation centers were designated for residents and animals, but because of COVID-19 concerns, people were told to stay in their cars in the parking lots.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

Homeowner Kenny Reynolds told CBS L.A. his house was mostly destroyed and his property scorched.

"There was a big wall of flame, kind of came over a little quicker than we thought, usually it comes a lot slower, or last time it came a lot slower," Reynolds said, referring to 2013's Powerhouse Fire, which broke out in the Angeles National Forest and destroyed several dozen homes.

Reynolds said he barely had time to evacuate as fire tornadoes formed on hillsides around his home. "Stayed as long as we could, but it was kind of surrounding the house, and me and the neighbors evacuated as flames kind of engulfed his house," Reynolds said.

California Wildfires
A helicopter drops water on the Lake Fire in the Angeles National Forest on August 13, 2020. Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The Lake Fire was one of several wildfires burning in the region.

Several new fires erupted Thursday.

The largest was a fast-moving brush fire in the San Gabriel mountains above the L.A. suburb of Azusa. It burned more than 2,500 acres of brush but was moving away from homes. However, some evacuations were ordered.

Fire officials said the fire was still 0% contained as of 10 p.m., reports CBS L.A.

There were about 100 homes at the base of the mountain where the "Ranch Fire" was burning, the station said.

Structure protection was in place, officials said. However, there's a large homeless encampment in the area that officials and neighbors said may be threatened.

Another blaze came dangerously close to some homes in Corona, east of Los Angeles, and another fire in eastern Sacramento County burned about 500 acres before firefighters stopped its forward spread.

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