Powerhouse Fire consumes 19,500 acres, injures 3 firefighters

Powerhouse Fire consumes 19,500 acres, injures 3 firefighters

The Powerhouse Fire has so far consumed nearly 19,500 acres in California as it continues to tear down through the southern part of the state and threatens 1000 people. The fire has injured 3 firefighters, as it continues to burn unabated in moderate and shifting winds.

According to U.S. Forest Service (USFS), this fire is difficult to fight because it is in the midst of a steep, rugged terrain. Ground crews have had to use bulldozers, to cut fire lines around the fire to contain the flame. The blaze was only 20 percent contained early Sunday according to USFS spokesman, John Wagner.

USFS described the inferno as having “rapid rates of spread with a high resistance to control efforts.” The spokesman added that the fire had “made a major run to the west and north under moderate winds, very dry conditions, and high temperatures.”

Reports said a large plume of smoke could be seen from the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys as the flames chewed through heavy brush east of Castaic Lake, because of the scorching Powerhouse Fire.

The fire started Thursday near a hydroelectric plant in Santa Clarita and quickly grew to more than 5,500 acres. Numerous homes were forced to evacuate in the areas between Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

According to fire spokesman Keith Mora, at least five homes have been destroyed in the flames and approximately 1,000 structures were still vulnerable in the fire area. One structure, described as an outbuilding, was also destroyed in the blaze.

USFS spokesman. Nathan Judy, said in addition to the 1000 homes, 10 businesses and 20 outbuildings were also threatened.

According to early accounts, power lines were reported susceptible to flames on Thursday. However, no service disruptions were reported, according to authorities.

More than 900 firefighters continue to battle the blaze, assisted by aircraft and air tankers.

Scorching temperatures on Saturday made the task of fighting the fire more difficult. Temperatures in the fire zone were above 100 degrees, with relative humidity down in the single digits.

“It’s going to be very hot and dry with not a whole lot of wind,” National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sukup, said in Oxnard on Saturday. He added that conditions would start to improve on Monday. “Relative humidity should be increasing as the marine layer returns tomorrow,” he said.

Temperatures today were forecast to be high in the upper 80s and low 90s, with about 20 to 30 percent relative humidity.

Air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Gabriel Mountains was expected to be unhealthy throughout the weekend due to the fire. Health officials urged people to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.

According to authorities, evacuation orders were expected to remain in effect for the following areas: the Forest Service’s Cottonwood Campground, L.A. County’s Camp Mendenhall juvenile detention center, and areas along Lake Hughes Road.

Other evacuations remained in effect for areas north of South Portal Road and west of San Francisquito Canyon Road.

Roads were also closed as far south as Castaic at Lake Hughes Road. New road closures were ordered Saturday in Castaic at Lake Hughes Road. Palmdale shefiff’s officials said the road will be used to transport heavy equipment throughout the day.

The cause of the Powerhouse Fire which has consumed 19,5000 acres was under investigation.

A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at the Marie Kerr Park’s recreation center in Palmdale. In addition an evacuation centers for large animals and small animals have been set up in Lancaster and Castaic.

By Perviz Walji

Sources: Daily News, Los Angeles, LA Times, NBC, Southern California

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