Jul 30, 2010 8:10 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

1,200 homes under evacuation orders in LA County

Firefighters plan an aggressive air attack at first light Friday against a fast-moving wildfire that exploded in northern Los Angeles County, chewing through more than 4,500 acres of dry brush, forcing thousands of evacuations and burning at least three structures.

There is zero containment, authorities said.

Three water-dropping helicopters and hundreds of firefighters worked through the night to get ahead of the blaze which broke out around 3 p.m. Thursday on the northern side of State Route 14. By early evening the winds picked up and pushed the flames north and east toward Palmdale, in the suburbs of Los Angeles County's inland desert, authorities said.

Orange flames exploded through dry grasses, jumped roads and sped across the rural foothills that connect Los Angeles to the high desert.

"Man, it looks bad outside. If I step outside the restaurant, it's just insane looking - black and orange smoke and helicopters going through, dropping water," said Jamie Karschamroon, 29, the co-owner of Crazy Otto's diner in Leona Valley.

Authorities evacuated more than 2,000 people in the Leona Valley area and Rancho Vista as 500 firefighters worked to contain flames in the Palmdale area and protect homes in the path of the wildfires.
"A fire of this magnitude is generating its own environment, with winds to 20 miles per hour," Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Matt Levesque said. "Fifty-foot flames are not out of the ordinary."

He told the Los Angeles Times that no injuries or fatalities have been reported in connection with the fires.

Two outbuildings and a hay house were destroyed by the flames. The burned structures were located on the northern side of the valley, which the Los Angeles Times notes is an agricultural area known for cherry orchards and vineyards.




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