Crews from several agencies were battling a brush fire in the Lake Hughes area of the Angeles National Forest Wednesday that exploded to about 10,000 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations.
The so-called Lake Fire was reported near Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon roads at about 3:40 p.m. and was threatening structures. At least one structure was seen burning, but fire officials could not immediately confirm how many buildings were lost.
Temperatures were in the mid 90s when the blaze began, officials said.
“The gusty winds, low humidities, and hot temperatures will bring elevated to brief critical fire weather conditions to the mountains and Antelope Valley,” according to a statement on the Angeles National Forest incident page.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents in the area of Lake Hughes Road, west of Pine Canyon and south of Dry Gulch Road, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Additional evacuations were instated east of Old Ridge Route, west of 3 Points Road, north of Pine Canyon Road, and south of Highway 138, as well as at Elizabeth Lake Road between Lake Hughes and Trail Mountain roads.
The Red Cross opened a temporary evacuation point for affected residents, at Highland High School located at 39055 25th Street West in Palmdale. Residents must stay in their cars to curb COVID-19 spread, organizers said, and small animals are welcome.
Large animals may be taken to Castaic Animal Care Center, Lancaster Animal Care Center, Palmdale Animal Care Center or the AV Fairgrounds in Lancaster.
Officials also ordered road closures at Pine Canyon Road and Highway 138, as well as Pine Canyon Road at Lake Hughes Road.
National Weather Service officials said the blaze was growing at an “extreme rate in steep terrain.” It was first reported at 50 acres and rapidly grew in size. The blaze was 0% contained as of 9:00 p.m.
Aerial video from Sky5 showed intense flames burning along hillsides and trees as heavy smoke was seen in the area.
Aircrafts were making water and retardant drops over the fire, as firefighters battled flames on the ground. Forest officials said crews are making “good progress” on the south side of the blaze near the Cottonwood Campground.
Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said at least 9 helicopters, 6 air tankers, 50 fire engines, 10 battalion chiefs and 500 firefighters were responding “as part of a massive resource request to bolster structure protection.”
As of Aug. 1, the forest changed its fire danger level from very high to extreme, promoting officials to prohibit campfires in developed sites.
Smoke from the Lake Fire could be seen as far as Venice Beach, a photo from Los Angeles County lifeguards showed.
Crews from Los Angeles, Culver City Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Ventura County are assisting in the blaze.
Authorities expected to be on scene for several days, officials said at an evening new briefing.