CASTAIC (CBSLA.com) — Authorities continued to order mandatory evacuations Saturday as the Powerhouse Fire grew from changing winds.
The Los Angeles Fire Department, the U.S. Forestry Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said an estimated 5,600 acres had burned and the fire was 20 percent contained.
The Lake Hughes area was hardest hit Saturday night, with the fire advancing towards the Lake Elizabeth area. By 11p.m. the fire appeared to have wrapped around both Lake Elizabeth and Lake Hughes.
Fire crews kept up aerial drops into the evening as 5 structures were reported to be burning and more than 1,000 structures were threatened.
Immediate evacuations were ordered from San Francisquito Canyon Road up to Elizabeth Lake Road and areas south of Lake Hughes Road. Authorities said additional emergency personnel are activated to assist in evacuations.
The evacuation order for Lake Elizabeth was changed from voluntary to mandatory Saturday evening.
A Red Cross evacuation center at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale (39700 30th Street West) remained open.
LASD said an evacuation center for large animals has been set up at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (Gate 3) at 2551 West Avenue H.
San Francisquito Canyon Road remained closed to all traffic Saturday night, with Elisabeth Lake Road and Bouquet Canyon Road open to residents only.
Winds switched directions to the north and west Saturday at around 3p.m, causing flames to spread up the canyon.
The fire was moving in a south and southwest direction throughout most of the day Saturday, prompting the road closure and a new round of evacuations along Lake Hughes Road Saturday morning.
Crews faced nearly 100-degree temperatures and winds gusting up to 20m.p.h. as hot dry weather continued to feed the flames.
An estimated 900 firefighters battled flames as crews made repeated air drops of fire retardant and water throughout the day. Fire officials said 10 helicopters and 8 air tankers were involved in the efforts.
In nearby Valencia, residents reported heavy ash and haze.
“During the day it gets heavier,” said one resident. “And then it blows out, and then it comes back.”
“We can smell it. We can see it from our windows,” another resident said. “The ashes are all over the floors and cars.”
The Air Quality Management District said those in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Gabriel Mountains should avoid outdoor activities.
The fire was being fueled by heavy brush and chaparral in steep terrain. Full containment of the blaze isn’t expected until June 5.
Officials said the vegetation in the area has not burned for more than 30 years, and thus far, only one utility structure has been destroyed. One firefighter was injured when a rock fell on his leg.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.