Lake Fire containment at 38% after burning nearly 30 square miles in Lake Hughes area

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Firefighters on Monday are working to increase containment of a massive brush fire burning in the Angeles National Forest after a series of lightning strikes stoked a flare-up of the Lake Fire over the weekend.

As of 8 p.m., the Lake Fire was 38% contained and had burned 19,026 acres, or nearly 30 square miles. At least 12 structures and 21 outbuildings have been destroyed.

More than 4,500 buildings remained threatened by the wildfire, which erupted near Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon roads last Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters already battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain with scorching heat faced more hurdles over the weekend when hundreds of lightning strikes hit while winds of up to 15 mph pushed the flames uphill.

Crews will continue to face challenging weather conditions as they battle the massive inferno on Monday, including broiling heat, according to the the federal InciWeb website. With highs forecast to reach between 108 to 111 degrees, an excessive heat warning will remain in effect until Thursday.

“All fires are challenging. This one’s especially challenging given the hot dry conditions and the rugged, roadless areas we’re dealing with,” said Rick Young, the incident commander of California Incident Management Team Five. “In addition to that, we’re dealing with fuels that haven’t seen fire in a significant period, leading to a very decadent understory in a forested overstory, which lends itself to long-range spotting, further hampering containment efforts.”

There’s also a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms through Wednesday, though officials don’t expect lightning to be as much of a concern as it was on Saturday, when more than 100 strikes generated large-scale fires and helped spread the flames.

Nearly 1,900 personnel have been assigned to the fire, including 12 helicopters, 23 water tenders, 25 dozers, 26 hand crews and 189 engines, according to InciWeb. Fixed-wing aircraft will also be available on request.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Evacuations and road closures

The fast-moving fire forced many residents to flee their homes, and as the flames remain a threat, a number of mandatory evacuation orders and road closures are still in place.

The following evacuations are in place in the Lake Hughes area:

  • Lake Hughes Road west of Pine Canyon and North of Dry Gulch Road
  • East of Ridge Route Road
  • West of Lake Hughes Road and Fire Station 78
  • North of Pine Canyon and Lake Hughes Road
  • South of State Route 138

An evacuation center at Highland High School in Palmdale that helped more than a dozen people affected by the fire was closed Monday, but the American Red Cross is monitoring the situation, according to a statement from the organization.

They have teams on standby that are capable of setting up an evacuation center, if needed, at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. The address is 2551 W. Avenue H in Lancaster.

San Francisquito Canyon Road, which was shut down for several days, is open once again.

The following roads, however, remain closed:

  • Three Points Road from Highway 138 to Pine Canyon Road
  • Old Ridge Route Road from Highway 138 to Pine Canyon Road
  • Lake Hughes Road from Ridge Route Road to Pine Canyon Road
  • Dry Gulch Rd. from San Francisquito Canyon Road to Lake Hughes Road

A community meeting addressing the fire is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Monday at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, on the north side of the H.W. Hunter Pavilion near the Grandstand Arena.

Community members have started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise relief money for those impacted.

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