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Anaheim Hills fire burns 60 acres; firefighters try to block march toward homes [Updated]

November 25, 2009 |  3:45 am


A wind-driven fire near Anaheim Hills has consumed more than 50 acres as more than 150 firefighters work to prevent it from reaching homes.

Thumb As of 3 a.m., the fire was 10% contained and had not burned any structures. But the 241 Toll Road remained closed, and officials at the Orange County Fire Authority were concerned that dry, hot winds could push the fire toward homes.

[Updated at 6:45 a.m.: The 241 Toll Road reopened shortly before 6 a.m., according to the CHP. As of 6:30 a.m., the fire had burned 60 acres and was 10% contained, said Orange County Fire Authority spokeswoman Polly Bowen.]

The fire was moving south, away from developments in Orange and Anaheim Hills.

Authorities asked Los Angeles County officials to dispatch a helicopter for night water drops. The Firehawk helicopter, similar to the military's Blackhawk, holds 1,000 gallons of water and was to begin attacking the blaze overnight, officials said. Firefighters in the engine company will be used to set up a heliport and fill the copter with water between drops, said Capt. Frank Reynoso of the L.A. County Fire Department.

The L.A. County department is among a handful of fire agencies that make the often risky nighttime water drops.

The fire erupted on the east side of the tollway, which separated it from tracts of homes on the west side. Crews were hoping to keep the fire confined to the east side, fire officials said. Ground crews were trying to beat back the flames on its flanks.

Lanes also were closed on the 91 Freeway in the early morning hours, just north of the blaze.

Winds are blowing 15 to 25 mph, officials said. But so far, crews have been able to confine the flames to the east side of the toll road. Officials were concerned the fire would have a straight shot at homes if it jumped the 241.

"It's got some potential to spread," said Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion of the Orange County Fire Authority.

"We want to keep it to the east side of the toll road because the threat is on the west side," Concepcion said.

Flames were a couple of miles from the nearest structures, but residents were advised to have escape plans in case they have to leave, said Capt. Greg McKeown of the Orange County Fire Authority.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for Orange County and other regions of Southern California. Winds were expected to gust as high as 50 mph, with relative humidity in the single digits, the weather service said.

-- Robert J. Lopez, Shelby Grad and Monte Morin

Photo: An Orange County Fire Authority helicopter flies over a  brush fire this morning east of Highway 241 in Anaheim Hills. As of 6:30 a.m., the fire was about 10% contained. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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