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Cabin and Rustic Fires: Wildfires threaten structures near Simi Valley, Azusa

Firefighters watch the Cabin Fire burn off Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest Friday night. 

The Cabin Fire burns Friday evening in the Angeles National Forest off Highway 39 August 14, 2015. The fire started Friday afternoon and destroyed multiple structures.
Firefighters watch the Cabin Fire burn off Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest Friday night. The Cabin Fire burns Friday evening in the Angeles National Forest off Highway 39 August 14, 2015. The fire started Friday afternoon and destroyed multiple structures.
Stuart Palley for KPCC
Firefighters watch the Cabin Fire burn off Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest Friday night. 

The Cabin Fire burns Friday evening in the Angeles National Forest off Highway 39 August 14, 2015. The fire started Friday afternoon and destroyed multiple structures.
The Rustic Fire in Simi Valley threatened around 500 homes Friday evening, Ventura County Fire officials said.
Screenshot from ABC7
Firefighters watch the Cabin Fire burn off Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest Friday night. 

The Cabin Fire burns Friday evening in the Angeles National Forest off Highway 39 August 14, 2015. The fire started Friday afternoon and destroyed multiple structures.
A screenshot of the Cabin Fire burning in Angeles National Forest shows a structure in flames.
Courtesy KTLA


Two fast-moving wildfires broke out Friday and threatened homes and structures in the area. The first, called the "Cabin Fire," was burning in the hills north of Azusa, and had destroyed at least four structures by 7 p.m. and shut down a stretch of Highway 39. The Rustic Fire broke out later in the afternoon near homes in Simi Valley, prompting officials to ask residents to prepare to evacuate as a precaution.   

Updates

Update 6:55 p.m.: Police ask Simi Valley residents to prepare to evacuate

As a precaution, Simi Valley police issued the following instructions for Simi Valley residents near the Rustic Fire:

- Shelter in place 
- Prepare animals and personal belongings for evacuation if necessary 
- Watch TV news coverage to monitor progress of fire

Police singled out the community of Bridal Path to be vigilant in a separate alert. 

Simi Valley Police Commander Joseph May told KPCC the Bridal Path is in no immediate danger, but suggested residents there should start moving their animals now, in case the fire moves in.

"There’s open brush between the location of the active fire and where the Bridal Path tract is," May said. "So we wanted to give an early warning to the residents to monitor the fire and move their horses and any livestock that they have prior to it becoming an issue."

He added: "If the fire moves into that area, fire resources are trying to get in while people are trying to get their animals out."

Update 6:48 p.m.: Cabin Fire grows along with resources to fight it

The Cabin Fire burning brush in the hills north of Azusa has notched another hundred acres, fire officials said Friday. Three firefighters have been taken to hospital with minor injuries and four structures have now been confirmed destroyed, fire officials said. 

Angeles National Forest Environmental Coordinator Justin Seastrand said approximately 400 firefighters are now on scene, along with several helicopters and tankers. 

"Typically fire behavior will lessen overnight, so that's hopeful," he said. " And then you'll see continued aggressive attack tomorrow with as many available aircraft as can be dispatched." 

Seastrand added about 200-300 campers have been evacuated from areas nearby.

Update 5:26 p.m.: 500 Simi Valley homes threatened

Ventura County Fire Department tweeted the Rustic Fire has threatened 500 homes.

(Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Dept.)

Jason Fajardo, who lives a few miles away from the fire, told KPCC what it looked like from his home.

“There’s a big ridge in front of me blocking the view directly to the fire," he said. "But there is a really big plume of smoke. You see it’s pretty much starting to head eastward, which would be taking it away from the homes and down past the south end of Simi Valley.”

Captain Scott Dettorre with Ventura County Fire Department told KPCC there are 150 personnel fighting the Rustic Fire, and confirmed 500 homes are threatened. No evacuations have been issued, and Dettorre expects there will be no need to evacuate homes. The wind has been cooperating.

"The gameplan for today is to try to cut this thing off and have it out by tonight," he said. 

Update 4:26 p.m.: New fire breaks out in Simi Valley

Another wildfire has broken out near a residential neighborhood in Simi Valley, fire officials said, though flames appear to be headed away from homes.  

The Rustic Fire is burning near the 500 block of Rustic Hills Drive, according to a tweet from the Ventura County Fire Department. The department estimated the fire to be around 50 acres. 

Update 3:45 p.m.: Campgrounds evacuated, cabins destroyed

The Cabin Fire has grown to more than 100 acres — 10 times its original size in two hours.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sergeant Vicki Gregory told KPCC two campgrounds along Highway 39 are under mandatory evacuation, Coldbrook Campground and Crystal Lake Campground. Forty people were evacuated from Crystal Lake, and two cabins have been destroyed, Gregory said.

Smoke from the fire has prompted an advisory from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which said air quality could reach "unhealthy" levels in mountain areas close to and downwind of the flames. The district posted suggestions on protecting yourself: 

Everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors. Keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter. Run your air conditioner if you have one and keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. Avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. To avoid worsening the health effects of wildfire smoke, don’t use indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces. 

Update 3:05 p.m.: Highway 39 closed

Highway 39 has been closed at Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, according to an alert from the Azusa Police Department. They've also said there is no threat to homes within Azusa, as the fire appears to be spreading north, away from the city. 

Update 2:00 p.m: Wildfire destroys structure near Azusa

L.A. County Fire Department inspector David Dantic said the fire broke out near Highway 39 and Rincon Red Box Road in Angeles National Forest at around 1:18 p.m. From there, it quickly spread uphill. 

Angeles National Forest spokesman Justin Seastrand said the fire had so far charred around 1o to 15 acres. He added the the heat and low humidity are hampering firefighters' efforts, along with the San Gabriel Canyon's terrain. 

"This particular canyon is very steep and rocky," Seastrand said. "Also, [theres] a challenge of getting to the fire." 

One structure appears to have already been destroyed by the fire. It's unclear whether it was a home or another kind of building. Seastrand said there were others nearby.

 

Fire Tracker: Cabin Fire

Fire Tracker: Rustic Fire

This story will be updated.