2 fires north of LA persist after long fire week
Saturday, May 18, 2013
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) -- A pair of persistent wildfires continued to burn in the hills and mountains around Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles on Saturday, although authorities were slowly getting the upper hand.
A new fire that broke out Friday, the third major blaze in the area in a week, quickly surged to 712 acres Friday and briefly threatened an elementary school and about 20 homes. Some 350 firefighters, who battled both flames and unpredictable winds, were able to hold the line against it Saturday morning, however. It was 75 percent contained.
Crews were helped by relatively mild temperatures that were expected to remain into the weekend, but challenged by the unpredictable winds and very difficult terrain.
With air and ground attacks, firefighters were able to douse the flames closest to Northlake Hills Elementary School and stop a looming threat.
The school had a large defensible space around it, so it was easy to protect, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Miller said.
The campus was put on lockdown and buses were put on standby for a time in case hundreds of kindergarten through fifth-grade students needed to be evacuated.
After the flames were redirected, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Allen said the students were released to their parents without incident.
The fire was moving toward Castaic Lake.
The earlier fire that broke out Wednesday near Frazier Park was 70 percent contained Saturday after consuming some 4,358 acres.
That blaze was not threatening any homes or buildings but fire officials said containing it would be a long, difficult task because it was burning in such rugged and hard-to-reach terrain.
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