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Newhall Pass fire snarls traffic on 5, 14 freeways

October 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters battled a brush fire near the transition of the 5 and 14 freeways near the Newhall Pass on Saturday.

The fire ignited at about 1:20 p.m. near the truck lane transition road. As of 3:00 p.m., the burn area was estimated at approximately 15 acres.

Firefighters have been on heightened alert, as most of the Southland remains under a red-flag warning with high temps, fierce winds and low humidity.

Winds gusting to 65 miles per hour were reported at 1:30 p.m. at a fire station five miles southeast of the fire.

Fire crews on the ground and air fought the blaze, which spewed thick columns of black smoke and snarled traffic.

Officials launched more than six aircrafts including the 'Super Scooper' to battle the flames.

"It's in a freeway interchange so a lot of the areas are hard to access so with a combination of ground crews, engine companies, camp crews, we basically had to get hands on and go direct on this fire," said Los Angeles City Fire Asst. Chief Patrick Butler.

Both directions of the 5 Freeway were closed at one point, but lanes began to reopen at about 2:45 p.m. Northbound I-5 traffic was diverted off to the northbound 14 Freeway, and southbound I-5 traffic was diverted off at Calgrove Boulevard.

Crews from the Angeles National Forest were called out to assist county and city firefighters battling the wind-driven blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but the rugged hillsides of Newhall Pass are known to frequently catch fire during the dry season.

In the meantime, crews quickly knocked down a small brush fire that covered part of the 134 Freeway in Eagle Rock Saturday.

The blaze broke out on the southbound lanes of the 134 Freeway, just east of the 2 Freeway.

Fire officials say the landscaping mulch had caught on fire, but crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames.

In La Mirada, the powerful gusts toppled a large tree and an electrical pole, sending both into the roadway. With power lines down, crews shut down the intersection at Imperial Highway and La Mirada Boulevard for most of the day.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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