September 5, 2012

Rain aids battle against California forest fire

Raquel Maria Dillonsue Manning Associated Press
 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rain arrived Wednesday to help in the assault on a 3,800-acre fire in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

Remnants of Tropical Storm John brought the precipitation and darkened the skies over the Angeles National Forest where firefighters have been working on steep slopes since Sunday to put out a blaze in chaparral that hasn’t burned in 15 or 20 years.

With the showers came the risk of dry lightning, which has already started more than 50 fires in California this summer, said National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto.

The latest fire started northeast of Los Angeles and was 24 percent contained before the rains came, officials said. It was expected to be fully surrounded on Sept. 13.

There were nearly 1,300 firefighters on hand despite the treacherous terrain and slopes between 30 percent and 80 percent. At least five firefighters have sustained minor injuries.

A 25 percent chance of thunderstorms continues in the area through Thursday, Seto said.

Temperatures will decrease a few degrees, but uncomfortable humidity will rise from 20 percent in the morning to as much as 70 percent later in the day, Seto said.

The moisture is the last hurrah from the storm from the south, which got churned up in a low pressure system approaching from the north, Seto explained.

Firefighters can also expect winds from the southwest of about 15 mph, he said. Winds on the fire front could be different, he said, since fires create their own winds.

By the weekend, a high pressure system should arrive, clearing the skies and raising temperatures a few degrees but lowering humidity, Seto said.

On the fire lines, crews have eight air tankers, 10 helicopters, 68 engines, eight dozers and 11 water tenders.

Firefighters are still looking for a cause. A burned car was found in the area, but it was unknown if the car caused the fire or was just destroyed by it.

As many as 12,000 people were asked to leave the area over the busy Labor Day weekend. About 25 residents of the nearby community of Camp Williams refused to leave.

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Manning reported from Los Angeles. Dillon reported from Camp Williams.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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