Crews make progress on Palos Verdes fire

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. The fire in Ranchos Palos Verdes broke out Thursday just before 8 p.m. near Ocean Trails Drive and Palos Verdes Drive, and within an hour. It has since charred about 230 acres, mostly in an area away from homes.

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

More than 300 firefighters from L.A. County, L.A. City and Torrance fire departments are battling the blaze.

It was a scary situation for residents when the blaze grew out of control.

"Every tree was catching on fire, ashes flying in the air. It looked like a volcano almost, just flames everywhere, absolutely insane," said hiker Derek Hand.

Officials told over 2,000 residents in the areas of Portuguese Bend, Amber Sky Drive, Southfield Drive and Crest Road to evacuate, but by Friday, all mandatory evacuation orders were lifted.

"The attack was an aggressive attack. It was an offensive attack," said Inspector Steve Zermeno from the L.A. County Fire Department.

"The aircraft attack was relentless last night, and I think that's really what did it," he said.

Rancho Palos Verdes resident Sharon Cook said she waited until the last minute to evacuate

"Around midnight, when four from the fire department stood on our property with their hoses and said, 'We're here to save your property. You need to go,'" she said.

According to L.A. County Fire, the blaze caused minor damage to six homes and destroyed an outbuilding and gazebo.

"I could see the fire spreading both east and west at incredibly fast rates, and one house, more or less, exploded when the fire got to it," said Mark Goldberg from Rancho Palos Verdes.

Crews hiked down to burned out areas to put out any remaining hot spots. For residents surveying the damage, this was just a close call.

"I was very nervous, and I just really want to thank the L.A. County Fire Department for saving the homes in Rolling Hills and the other homes because they did an excellent job," said a local woman in the area.

The fire also caused a power outage that affected about 1,000 Southern California Edison customers. Edison said it was working to get power back up as soon as possible. By Friday afternoon, 97 customers, all in the Portuguese Bend area, were still without power. Affected streets include Seawall Road, Sea Urchin Lane, Seascape Road, Spindrift, Yacht Harbor, Dauntless, Avenger Place and Helm Place.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

No injuries have been reported.

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