Southern California breaking news and trends

Powerhouse Fire burns 19,500 acres, 5 structures

Powerhouse Fire - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

More than 900 firefighters and a dozen aircraft have been deployed to fight the Powerhouse Fire which has been burning since Thursday afternoon.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Resident Wayna Anaya, who has lived in Green Valley for 28 years, watches the Powerhouse Fire from his driveway. "I'm hoping that it's going to hit this fire break and just run out of fuel," he said.

Powerhouse Fire - 5

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The fire burned power lines and a Department of Water and Power hydroelectric plant near San Francisquito Canyon Road.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A helicopter drops water over flames in Angeles National Forest. Three days ago a fire broke out in Valencia, miles away from the Powerhouse Fire.

Powerhouse Fire - 9

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The fire remains at 15 percent containment and 1,500 acres burned.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Green Valley resident Wayne Anaya packs his trailer as helicopters with flame retardant fly by.

Powerhouse Fire - 1

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A cross is untouched as the Powerhouse Fire burns near Green Valley in the Angeles National Forest north of Santa Clarita on Friday.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Green Valley resident Wayne Anaya loads his six goats into a trailer. Anaya will bring his animals to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, which is being used as a shelter for large animals.


Recent updates | Evacuation centers

Update 8:04 a.m:  The U.S. Forest Service says there are 2100 personnel fighting the fire, which is 20 percent contained. 

"The fire is really dire but the weather is giving us a break," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Matt Corelli.  

Temperatures were in the triple digits yesterday but are expected to drop by 10 degrees today.  Firefighting efforts will also be helped by an increase in humidity levels.  The wind is coming out of the southwest at 10-15 mph.

Power lines are down around the Lake Hughes community.

Update 6:32 a.m.: The Powerhouse fire exploded overnight, tripling in size to 19,500 acres.  The blaze, north of Santa Clarita, was stoked by hot, dry weather Saturday evening.

"The fire was able to come into alignment with slope, winds, low RH and critically dry fuels making extreme head runs on all open divisions with long range spotting and very active backing and flanking fire," according to the U.S. Forest Service.

2000 people have been evacuated. At least five structures have been lost. 1000 homes, 10 businesses and 20 outbuildings are still threatened.

Lake Hughes is under mandatory evacuations and Elisabeth Lake is under a voluntary evacuation.  Evacuations remain in place along Lake Hughes Road, including two youth probation camps and Cottonwood campground.

Lake Hughes Road is closed from Cottonwood campground on the North to Lake Castaic on the South. San Francisquito Canyon Road is also closed. Bouquet Canyon Road and Elizabeth Lake Road are open to residents.

A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale.  The address is 39700 30th Street West. People with large animals were told to take them to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Small animals were being taken to the animal shelters in Lancaster or Castaic.

Update 11:03 p.m.: Keith Mora of the Los Angeles County Fire Department tells NBCLA that the fire has "completely destroyed" five homes. There are two helicopters actively fighting the fire.

Update 9:29 p.m:  The Los Angeles County Fire Department reports that the Powerhouse Fire has burned 5,561 acres and is 20 percent contained.  There are 975 firefighters "battling with active structure protection." Three injuries have been confirmed.

Residents of more than 1,000 homes were ordered to leave Saturday as erratic winds pushed a wildfire closer to two foothill communities north of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.

The wind shifted in several directions, fanning the fire in the Angeles National Forest to nearly 9 square miles, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy told the AP.

By dusk, it marched downhill toward Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, west of Lancaster, he said. He did not know whether any structures have been burned.

Daytime temperatures that topped at 105 degrees and the erratic winds worked against the nearly 1,000 firefighters on the line. Judy said the wind pushed the fire up and down steep slopes, creating embers that sparked spot fires in different directions.

Evening temperatures dropped to 85 degrees, and conditions remained dry.

A huge plume of smoke could be seen from much of various parts of northern Los Angeles County throughout the day, and air-quality officials warned against strenuous outdoor activity.

The blaze broke out Thursday just north of Powerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant near the Los Angeles Aqueduct, forcing about 200 evacuations in the mountain community of Green Valley.

Evacuations remained in effect for the Cottonwood campground and two youth probation camps along Lake Hughes Canyon Road.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Temperatures were expected to dip Sunday, with continued cooling on Monday and Tuesday.

Update 8:26 p.m: The Los Angeles County Fire Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are ordering immediate evacuations from San Francisquito Canyon Road up to Elizabeth Lake Road.  According to a statement, additional personnel has been called in to help with the evacuations. 

Update 1:10 p.m.: The Los Angeles County Fire Department and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies are now evacuating the lightly-populated areas along Lake Hughes Road due to the Powerhouse Fire in San Francisquito Canyon which had blackened 3,662 acres north of Santa Clarita by dawn on Saturday.

At midday, deputies closed Lake Hughes Road east of the lake and and evacuated the area from a campground just east of Castaic northeast to the Mendenhall Probation Camp. The road was closed to make way for heavy equipment on the twisty canyon road, according to fire spokespersons.

A large plume of smoke was visible from the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, as the flames chewed through heavy brush east of Castaic Lake.

Evacuation centers:

  • A Red Cross evacuation center was set up today at Marie Kerr Park, 39700 30th Street West, in Palmdale. 
  • Persons evacuating large animals were told to take them to Gate 3 of the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 West Avenue H, in Lancaster.

Firefighters are expected to reach full containment on June 5, said Maria Holguin of the U.S. Forest Service.  The fire was 15 percent contained at sunrise.

"We want to make sure this fire doesn't jump any of our ridge lines and take off to the north," said Nathan Judy with the U.S. Forest Service.

Evacuations yesterday included the Forest Service's Cottonwood Campground and L.A. County's Camp Mendenhall juvenile detention center in addition to areas north of South Portal Road and west of San Francisquito Canyon Road. Bouquet Canyon and Elizabeth Lake roads were restricted to residents only. It was unclear how many people were affected, Judy said.

Update 11:02 a.m.: According to the U.S. Forest Service, efforts in battling the Powehouse Fire now include —

  • 958 firefighters
  • 12 water tenders
  • seven bulldozers
  • 10 helicopters
  • one fixed-wing aircraft
  • eight air tankers 

Additional crews were deployed overnight to complete hand operations and to improve those already in place. 

Previously

Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle a growing brush fire north of Santa Clarita on Saturday. In the past 12 hours, the fire has remained at 15 percent containment but doubled in size with more than 3,600 acres burned.

NBC LA reports that one firefighter was injured overnight and that officials are hoping for full containment by Wednesday.  

Responders Saturday are facing hot and dry weather with temperatures nearing 100 degrees.

The fire broke out at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday just north ofPowerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant in San Francisquito Canyon north of Santa Clarita and near the LA aqueduct that has been operating for nearly a century.

An air quality smoke advisory for the Santa Clarita and San Gabriel Valleys went into effect Friday until further notice, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"If you are smelling smoke, if you're seeing smoke you would definitely should not be outside exercising vigorously," said AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood. "And people who have heart disease or lung disease, including asthma, should take extra precaution and should even consider staying inside." 

Evacuation centers have been set up for people and for animals. 

  • A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at the Marie Kerr Park, located at 39700 30th St. West, in the City of Palmdale.
  • The Evacuation for large animals has been set up at Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (Gate 3), located at 2551 West Avenue H, in the City of Lancaster. 

The last confirmed report estimated 800 firefighters and more than a dozen aircraft deployed at the scene. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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