Powerhouse Fire Burns Through Angeles National Forest

The Powerhouse Fire (CA) that began burning in the Angeles National Forest, blackening about 29,500 acres and destroying or damaging 15 homes, is not expected to be fully contained until a week from today, reports the Beverly Hills Courier.

With containment at 40 percent as of late this morning, mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the communities of Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake and for parts of Green Valley, said Ron Ashdale of the U.S. Forest Service.

About 2,000 people have been evacuated, and it was unclear how long the evacuation order would remain in place.

"Fire officials are now developing a re-entry plan for evacuated residents," incident commanders said in a statement released this morning.

Fifteen homes have been damaged -- six of them destroyed -- and 1,210 structures have been threatened, according to Ashdale, who said nearly 2,200 firefighters have been deployed to fight the fire. Ground crews were being assisted today by crews in 11 helicopters and eight fixed-wing aircraft.

Meanwhile, authorities were monitoring large power lines and transformers running through the fire region.

"The power lines serve residents through the entire West Coast into Washington state," this morning's statement says. "A redistribution of power grids and lines must be done if the fire impacts the lines. … If the fire continues to move on its current path, it has the potential to move into an area that houses a solar farm."

Sustained winds of about 25 miles per hour gusting to 40 mph pushed the fire across the California Aqueduct and into the Antelope Valley on Sunday afternoon. Two tongues of fire caused problems Sunday near Muntz Ranch, about 12 miles west of Lancaster, and 10 miles farther west, near the California State Poppy Reserve east of Lebec.

The fire spread out in the linear east-west valley holding the small communities of Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake. Portions of the vast area the blaze already has consumed have not been touched by fire since 1929, USFS officials said.

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