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Higher fire danger to persist on Saturday as temps top 100

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There is an heightened risk of wildfires for the weekend, the National Weather Service warned, with the heat expected to be even more scorching Saturday.

Forecasters said humidity levels will be very dry through Saturday, particularly in the foothills and mountains, and the Southland will swelter through triple-digit temperatures Saturday. Temperatures could reach as high as 104 in the San Gabriel Valley, 105 in the San Fernando Valley and 107 in the Hollywood Hills.

The fire risk is particularly high in the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Ventura County Mountains, forecasters said. But the good news is that the winds, like on Friday, weren't expected to be too bad.

PHOTOS: Fire in Sepulveda Pass

"The heat won't be working in our favor, but the lack of wind will," Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Mario Rueda said.

Temperatures hit 102 degrees when a blaze began just east of the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass on Friday afternoon, and quickly lapped up a hillside during the height of the commute. The smoke could be seen as far as Santa Monica. The Getty Center, on the other side of the freeway, closed early as a precaution, and some people in nearby areas left the area on their own.

But because winds were mild, firefighters were able to get the upper hand on the blaze in less than three hours, and two Super Scoopers were quickly dispatched to douse the flames. No evacuations were ordered.

After 7 p.m., crews were cutting a fire line parallel to Sepulveda Boulevard and were expected to work until 10 p.m. The fire was 40% contained.

The flames could be seen during the height of the Friday afternoon commute, leaving some drivers stranded for two hours.

Chris J. Miller, 25, a security guard at a construction site next to a gas station at Sepulveda Boulevard and Moraga Drive, consoled trapped, flustered commuters seeking an escape.
 
"Oh, it's been jam-packed," Miller said as he pointed toward Sepulveda Boulevard. "People are hungry, man. This guy came over and stopped to get food, cause he'd been stuck in traffic for two hours."

The scene was scary earlier, when "there was black smoke everywhere. You could see it moving through the sky," Miller said.

Virginia Flores and her 19-year-old daughter, Leslie, stewed as they sat in traffic for an hour and a half.

"It's hot and this is frustrating," Leslie Flores said.

"I'm tired and I just want to get home," her mother said.

The heat broke records Friday in downtown Los Angeles, where the mercury hit 100 degrees, topping the old record of 99 set for this date in 1894. Records were also shattered at Long Beach Airport, which hit 104, breaking a record of 96 set in 1979; and at UCLA, where the temperature rose to 97, breaking a record of 92 set in 1937, the weather service said.

ALSO:

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Sepulveda Pass fire: Super Scoopers attack 40-acre blaze

Firefighters gain control over 65-acre Sepulveda Pass fire

-- Marisa Gerber, Ruben Vives and Joseph Serna in the Santa Monica Mountains with Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Crews mop up the Sepulveda Pass fire on Friday. Credit: Joseph Serna / Los Angeles Times

 
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