Fire near Los Angeles menaces homes, transmitters
LOS ANGELES |
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A wildfire in the mountains north of Los Angeles has quadrupled in size since Friday, threatening telecommunications transmitters and prompting a call on Saturday for more homes to be evacuated.
Authorities said about 7,000 acres have burned in the San Gabriel Mountains near the exclusive suburb of La Canada Flintridge.
Mandatory evacuation notices were issued for people in hundreds of homes, including a hilltop subdivision just across a canyon from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon and was just 5 percent contained as of early Saturday, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Mark Savage.
Firefighters were trying to keep the blaze from reaching Mount Wilson, which houses key television and radio transmitters, as well as towers that handle emergency services dispatches.
"This is a very dangerous situation that we are in right now," said U.S. Forest Service fire boss Mike Dietrich. "We had overnight growth up toward the La Canada area, which has prompted additional evacuations there."
Southern California Edison, the utility that supplies power to the region, said it had de-energized two major power lines because of the fire.
Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said the outages were not affecting the utility's ability to service customers.
The city of La Canada Flintridge said 164 houses near a country club were blacked out until it was safe for Edison crews to enter the area.
A National Weather Service spokesman said the agency's automated Los Angeles radio station went off the air at midday due to burned power lines.
Angeles National Forest spokesman Robert Brady said on Friday that it could take a week to contain the flames, which have been helped by hot, dry weather with temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).
"If there was one silver lining, there are no Santa Ana winds predicted at this point," Dietrich said.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles and Monterey counties due to wildfires that had burned 13,000 acres.
Acting Governor John Garamendi on Saturday added northern California's Mariposa County to the emergency list after a wildfire there consumed about 3,400 acres, also threatening homes and closing roads.
(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Walsh)
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