Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for some 100 homes north of Los Angeles after a Southern California wildfire erupted Wednesday afternoon, tearing across thousands of acres of forest land with zero containment.
The Lake Hughes blaze, near rural communities some 65 miles north of Los Angeles, was first reported shortly after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, and rapidly exploded in size in a matter of hours, burning through more than 15.6 square miles (40.4 square kilometers), officials said.
Images of the wildfire shared by authorities on social media show plumes of smoke rising into the sky in the area, some of which hasn’t burned since 1968. The fire zone was located between Lake Hughes and Lake Castaic in the Angeles National Forest.
8/12 9:00 pm #LakeFire Update
The #LakeFire is currently at 10,000 acres w/0% containment & mandatory evacs in place.
— LACoFD (@LACOFD) August 13, 2020
Crews struggled to fight the fire by nightfall, when it began to move into heavier forest and drive through brushy ridges, making it harder to contain.
Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson said at a nighttime news conference that there were several reports the blaze had burned some outbuildings. No injuries were reported.
— L.A. County Fire Department (@LACoFDPIO) August 13, 2020
According to the California Fire Map, the blaze had burned though approximately 10,000 acres, with zero containment as of 10:06 p.m. Wednesday night. The Angeles National Forest covers about 700,000 acres.
“It’s pretty explosive fire behavior,” county Fire Chief Eric Garcia said, noting that more firefighters were arriving to join a team of 500 from several departments, 15 helicopters, and air tankers, to fight the wildfire.
“It’s typically what we see a little bit later in the season and often driven by wind. The fuel, moisture conditions, and the fire at this particular location with the slope, it really created the recipe for rapid fire growth,” he added.
Lake Hughes Road from Castaic to Pine Canyon was closed by authorities because of the wildfire.
Castaic Sports Complex
31230 Castaic Rd#Castaic
Highland High School
39055 25th Street West#Palmdale
— Red Cross Los Angeles (@RedCrossLA) August 13, 2020
The Red Cross Los Angeles said Wednesday night that it had opened up two temporary evacuation points at Highland High School, Palmdale, and Castaic Sports Complex, for residents affected by the blaze.
Citing COVID-19 concerns, the non-profit organization said that residents are required to remain in their vehicles at the evacuation point.
“We are ready to provide shelter to anyone affected by the #LakeFire. Because of #covid19, we are taking extra precautions to make sure everyone is safe & secure,” Red Cross Los Angeles said on Twitter. “Once people arrive at the evacuation point, we will assess their needs & make sure everyone has a safe place to stay.”
The fire was being driven by tinder-dry brush and steep terrain but its ferocity approached that of wind-driven blazes that usually erupt when Santa Ana winds arrive in the next few months, Richardson said.
Plumes of smoke from the blaze traveled thousands of feet in the air and could be seen dozens of miles away in Los Angeles and other Southern California communities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.