VIDEOS: Powerhouse Fire spreads havoc
PHOTOS: Structures on fire north of Santa Clarita
Cooler weather and increased humidity helped firefighters dig in Monday against a wildfire north of Los Angeles that burned six homes and forced the evacuation of nearly 3,000 residents. Ground crews were being assisted today by crews in 11 helicopters and eight fixed-wing aircraft.
Crews halted the northeastern march of the so-called Powerhouse Fire, which had been moving toward the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and the California Aqueduct, U.S. Forest Service Nathan Judy said.
The fire continues to move north and west, scorching more than 29,500 acres. Officials say it's 40 percent contained, with full containment not expected for more than a week.
"It was overnight humidity and a marine layer in the bottom portion of the fire that helped us slow progress," said Judy, who was at the active fireline to the north. "On the high desert side, it's still burning actively, pushed by high winds."
More than 2,000 firefighters meanwhile stood their ground to protect homes in the rural towns of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, while flames moved away from residential areas. At least 700 homes have been evacuated. Six were destroyed, 15 damaged, 1,210 buildings threatened and more than 2,800 residents evacuated.
The unseasonal blaze began Thursday afternoon along San Francisquito Canyon Road near a hydroelectric plant close to the Los Angeles Aqueduct and known as Powerhouse No. 1. Its cause remains under investigation.
High winds and temperatures approaching 100 degrees then drove the fire through canyons and steep terrain, challenging firefighters as it fanned out in different directions as it chewed up brush unburned in 85 years.
View PowerHouse Fire in a larger map
The fire crossed Lancaster Road and The California Aqueduct driven by gusts of up to 50 mph, but as of midnight Monday was not expected to move further north, U.S. Forest fire officials said. The fire west of Lake Hughes was expected to burn towards Sawmill and Sawtooth mountains.
Communities in Green Valley were no longer threatened.
Nonetheless, fire officials said potential of the Powerhouse blaze to get out of hand was "extreme," with temperatures Monday expected to hit 97 degrees with winds peaking between 25 and 35 mph. The fire still threatens 1,000 homes, businesses and commercial properties, including a solar plant and powerlines.
Firefighters have been deployed from across the West to help crews from the U.S.Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., with both fixed wing and helicopters used to dampen the blaze.
The California Highway Patrol was allowing residents only on San Francisquit and Elizabeth Lake roads. Los Angeles Sheriff's officials said report road closures remained in effect at:
--Elizabeth Lake Road/Bouquet Canyon Road
-- Elizabeth Lake Road / Pine Canyon
-- Elizabeth Lake Road / Gooede Road
-- Elizabeth Lake Road / 90th Street
-- Munz Road / Lancaster Blvd.
-- San Francisquito Canyon / Dry Gulch Road
-- 110th Street / Avenue K
-- Copper Hill Road / San Francisquito Road
-- Ridge Route Road / Lake Hughes Road
-- Spunky Canyon Road/Bouquet Canyon Road (soft closure)
-- Lake Hughes Road from Castaic road to Elizabeth Lake Road.
-- Francisquito Canyon Road is closed above Power House Road and below the Green Valley area.