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Fire burning in Angeles National Forest

August 25, 2009 9:01:29 AM PDT
About 600 firefighters battled a wildfire in the Angeles National Forest Tuesday that forced the evacuation of picnickers, campers and a group of Boy Scouts from the rugged mountain area northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The fire started at about 4:30 p.m., quickly consuming at least 250 acres of heavy brush above the San Gabriel Valley community of Azusa, Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Lugo said. The blaze sent up a huge plume of smoke that could be seen for miles.

Helicopters and air tankers fought the fire until dusk, Lugo said.

With relative humidity levels of about 12 percent and hot daytime temperatures, the fire fed on dry vegetation on both sides of Highway 39 and sent 40-foot flames racing up San Gabriel Canyon.

Picnickers, campers and hikers were evacuated, including about 15 Boy Scouts who rode a sheriff's department helicopter out of the canyon, said Sheriff's Sgt. David Infante.

The fire was 10 percent contained Tuesday night. No structures were threatened, and the flames were moving away from populated areas, Lugo said.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning of high fire danger for mountain areas in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The warning is scheduled to go into effect at 6 a.m. Wednesday and last until 9 p.m. Friday. Temperatures could exceed 100 degrees in some areas, with relative humidity expected to fall below 10 percent, the weather service said.

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