Powerhouse Fire: Cooler temps help firefighters


The blaze was 65 percent contained Tuesday after burning 32,032 acres since it began. More than 2,000 firefighters from around the state remain on the scene battling the fire from the air and on the ground. They are struggling with rugged and steep terrain, but are dealing with calmer weather conditions.

All evacuation orders were lifted Monday night. Sixteen homes, primarily in the Lake Hughes area, were burned. But officials say hundreds of others were saved.

Tuesday afternoon, road closures in effect included Lake Huges Road and Old Ridge Route Road, Pine Canyon Road and Three Point Road.

The majority of the flames that are left are burning along Elizabeth Canyon and Lake Hughes Road northwest to Sawtooth Mountain continuing over Shake Canyon. About 275 structures are still threatened, officials say.

Local health officials declared air quality in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas unhealthy until further notice due to the Powerhouse Fire. The South Coast Air Quality Management District posted an advisory for the Western San Gabriel Mountains and the areas closest to the fire, warning residents of unhealthy air quality for sensitive individuals.

The AQMD warns against exercising outdoors, and suggests people with heart or lung disease may need medical attention or may need to temporarily relocate. They urged residents to take precautions and stay indoors if possible.

So far, the fire has cost $8,707,139, according to the firefighters' unified command, but California authorities announced that the Federal Emergency Management Association was promising to cover 75 percent of the total cost.

Andrew Sterling still has a hard time accepting what happened to his property. His pool, cars and horse stable ruined.

Masses of acreage around his home were also torched. Sterling lives in Lancaster near the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve located about 6 miles away from the heart of the Powerhouse Fire in the Angeles National Forest. He, however, still fell victim to the blaze.

"It's sad you know. I don't know how I'm going to pay for this," said Sterling. "I have to wait for the insurance adjuster."

"Not only is the topography tough, but the wind has been pushing very hard," said Powerhouse Fire information officer Cecco Secci. "What it does is it carries those embers and creates what we call spotting. It takes those embers and pushes them even a mile ahead."

Firefighters say they could have the fire contained by Monday, June 10. They previously said it would be fully contained sometime this week.

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