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Evacuations issued in La Canada Flintridge

August 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A massive fire continues to burn in the La Canada Flintridge area, charring about 5,100 acres in steep terrain. It was 5 percent contained on Friday night. Mandatory evacuations were ordered just before 11 p.m. Friday for residences on Greenridge Drive, Forest Green Drive, Ridge Court and Starlight Crest Drive, Big Briar Way, La Canada Boulevard north of El Vago Street, Hacienda Drive, Linda Vista Drive, and Alta Canyada Road as fires in the area continue to rage out of control. It is unknown how many homes are affected.

Voluntary evacuations have been issued for residences on Evening Canyon Drive, Bay Tree Road, Briartree Drive, Summit Crest Drive, Bramblewood Road, Alder Ridge Drive, and Catherwood Drive.

An evacuation center has been set up at La Canada High School at 4463 Oak Grove Drive.

Residents were told to have their belongings packed and ready to go.

"You feel funny as you load up, as you pass things, you don't have enough arms ... You put something down as you see something else you think is more sentimental," said Ron Escue. Escue said his wife and daughter evacuated with their family heirlooms.

The blaze is growing dramatically, burning to the southeast toward the western edge of Altadena, according to fire officials, who said the fire might not be controlled for a week.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for L.A. County on Friday due to the fires in the area.

The Station Fire broke out in the Angeles National Forest at about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, and kicked up late Thursday afternoon. Flames are burning in the hills along the Angeles Crest Highway close to homes.

"It's really thick in here, so we can't see a whole lot. Once this breaks up a little bit, and we can get the airship in here, we'll start hitting it harder," said Nathan Judy from the U.S. Forest Service.

There are no reports of structures damaged or destroyed.

There are 750 firefighters from several different agencies battling the Station Fire.

Big Tujunga and Arroyo Seco canyons were closed at 6 p.m., barring anyone from "going into or being upon National Forest System lands, roads or trails within the closure area," except for people or organizations with special-use permits, said Sherry Rollman of the Angeles National Forest.

The closure area includes state Highway 2, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, as well as other Forest Service roads in the area of the Station Fire.

Some of the old growth in the steep terrain hasn't burned in 50 years. At one point, flames jumped Highway 2 and came close to the ranger station.

"It spotted over the road, and it got to about 15 acres, and that 15 acres grew exponentially right up that hillside. We had to get our crews out of there," Judy said.

Highway 2 is closed north of the golf course, and Angeles Crest Highway is closed from La Canada to Clear Creek Junction.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A second fire burning in the Angeles National Forest was 85 percent contained as of Friday night.

The Morris Fire is currently burning west of the Morris Reservoir.

A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for Camp Williams. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Rainbow Ranch.

An evacuation center is staged at El Robles Intermediate School, 66 N. Mountain Ave, Claremont.

Highway 39, East Fork Road and Glendora Mountain Road are closed to the public.

The Morris Fire started late Tuesday afternoon near San Gabriel Canyon Road and the Morris Dam and Reservoir. Since then, 2,168 acres have burned. Crews expect to have the blaze fully contained by Monday, August 31.

No structures have been damaged or destroyed, but three firefighters received minor injuries while fighting the Morris Fire.

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