Evacuations remain in place as Lake Fire in California continues to rage, now at 17,000 acres
Firefighters are continuing to contend with a 17,000-plus acre wildfire burning in California that has destroyed homes and forced people to flee. The Lake Fire, burning near Lake Hughes north of Los Angeles, reached 17,482 acres and was 12% contained as of Friday night.
The fire has destroyed at least 21 structures, officials said, and is threatening thousands more, CBS Los Angeles reports. Evacuation orders are in effect for Lake Hughes and the surrounding area, according to officials.
“Four of my friends lost their homes right up on canyon, just took it out, you know, it’s just sad,” one Lake Hughes man told CBS Los Angeles on Thursday.
Homeowner Kenny Reynolds said 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.
Dangerously high temperatures sweeping through the region this weekend will make the firefight even more dangerous.
Crews on Thursday were able to take advantage of some temporary relief thanks to light rainfall brought in by tropical storm Elida in order to increase containment. That relief dissipated late Thursday and into Friday, when the blaze flared up again and continued to spread further.
“So it really just goes to show how erratic fire can be and if the conditions are ripe, which they are now, it can be very, very unpredictable,” said L.A. County Fire Department spokesperson Sky Cornell.
It is unclear what caused the blaze, which was reported just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and quickly exploded amid swirling winds and high temperatures, forcing the evacuation of about 100 homes.
Some parts of the Angeles National Forest have not burned since the 1960s, fire officials said, leaving decades of brush ready to ignite in areas of rough terrain.