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Water-dropping helicopters aid fire fight near Palmdale

July 3, 2012 | 11:02 pm

A brush fire had burned about 200 acres near Palmdale.
Water-dropping helicopters Tuesday night were trying to stop the forward progress of a brush fire that had burned at least 200 acres near Palmdale as crews on the ground were hindered by the terrain, officials said.

About 300 firefighters were battling the blaze, called the Hillside fire. The blaze quickly spread as flames were fanned by winds up to 30 mph, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

"Those high winds make it very challenging," Capt Mark Savage told KTLA-TV Channel 5.

News footage showed three helicopters making repeated water drops on the flames that were burning across grassy fuels. Several ranches were in the area, but they were not immediately threatened, fire officials said.

Firefighters on the ground were having difficulty trying to reach the flames via dirt fire roads. Los Angeles County firefighters were being assisted by crews from the U.S. Forest Service.

Hand crews and bulldozer crews were planning to cut breaks around the perimeter, officials said.

"We've got our hands full," Savage said, "but we are certainly throwing resources at it."

Officials said Elizabeth Lake Road and Tierra Subida Road have been closed. Late Tuesday, a strike team was responding to Elizabeth Lake Road to make sure flames did not jump the roadway.

The Fire Department said the blaze broke out about 9:00 p.m. near Magnolia Lane and Boxwood Place and quickly spread from about 20 acres. The area was near a residential development, but the wind was pushing the fire away from those structures, according to fire officials.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation.


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Photo: Flames burn in the brush fire near Palmdale. Credit: KTLA-TV (Channel 5)