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Firefighters battling Crown fire hope for light winds and cooler temperatures

July 31, 2010 |  8:54 am

Firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand Saturday in a battle against a wildfire that has burned almost 14,000 acres in northern L.A. County.
 
Cooler overnight temperatures and milder winds helped firefighters get 62% containment around the Crown fire in the western Palmdale and Leona Valley areas.

Some 1,320 firefighters are battling the blaze along with 10 helicopters and a DC-10 air tanker.

There have been four dwellings destroyed, along with five outbuildings. Also, there have been three minor injuries to firefighters, including a bee sting.

While there were no mandatory evacuation orders in effect, some 2,300 residences were still considered to be threatened, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Frederic Stowers. Sixty commercial buildings and more than 100 outbuildings are also threatened.

Scores of residents who live in areas where there have been road closures would not be able to return for now, Stowers said. 

Firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze due to diminished winds, which made it possible for the establishment of containment lines. Stowers said that the challenge for Saturday remains the possibility of high winds and scorching temperatures. Temperatures are predicted to rise between 87 and 93 degrees, with possible wind gusts later in the afternoon between 25 and 30 mph.

“When you get a fire this size that produces an enormous amount of heat, you can’t anticipate what might happen,” Stowers said.

Stowers said that the strategy for Saturday would be to protect structures, conduct perimeter control and mop up areas where the fire had been beaten back. Stowers said firefighters would try to “close all remaining, uncontrolled fire lines.”

“The terrain is steep and the weather is going to be dry,” Stowers said.

Stowers said that firefighters would also continue to work to protect vital infrastructure such as power and communication lines.

Areas of concentration would include Portal Ridge; areas above Rancho Vista, such as Ritter Ranch; and the communities above Ana Verde.

-- Ann Simmons

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