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Crews try to get control of Mt. Baldy fire

50 percent contained; 310 acres blackened
May 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With weather conditions expected to get worse, firefighters are trying to get a handle on a fire on Mount Baldy.The fire has burned about 310 acres since it was first spotted around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Bear Creek Canyon area of Mount Baldy.

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With hot weather on the way, firefighters are working to contain the so-called Big Horn Fire, burning in a very steep, rugged area of the Angeles National Forest.

Decreased winds and cooler temperatures overnight lessened the threat to nearby homes, but another round of wind is expected Wednesday.

Along with the hot, gusty weather, crews are battling some tough terrain in the Angeles National Forest. Wednesday night, the fire had charred 310 acres and was 50 percent contained.

"We will be flying in some of the crews into remote areas, spiking them out, which actually means we'll be putting them on the fire line. We'll fly in their food, all their equipment that they need, by helicopter. So they can actually stay and get better rest on the fire line, reduce our injuries and get better productivity on the fire," said Capt. Greg Cleveland.

Several hundred firefighters with L.A. and San Bernardino County Fire Departments and the U.S. Forest Service are working the fire.

Seven helicopters are resuming air drops, along with two fixed-wing aircraft. Both planes were grounded on Tuesday in the midst of 60 mile per hour wind gusts.

Hand crews stayed overnight to take advantage of calm, cooler conditions. Now, the threat of warmer weather and increased winds is expected to compound the containment effort.

So far no structures have been destroyed or damaged in the blaze. Evacuation orders remain in effect to about 40 homes in the Bear Creek area, but it appears the flames are moving away from the residential areas.

"There have been some voluntary evacuations in the communities and also some mandatory in some of the recreation cabins. But right now we feel comfortable at the residents that are in place should feel safe. We do have trigger points though, so if this condition should change, the fire reaches a certain point, we'll issue those warnings to the community to evacuate," said Capt. Cleveland.

The major hurtle for crews is trying to fight the fire with the hot weather and low humidity. Firefighters say they are working hard to get things under control as quickly as they can before the heat gets even worse.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Eyewitness News Reporters Subha Ravindhran and Wendy Burch contributed to this report.

 

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