NEAR AZUSA (CBSLA.com) — Campers and hikers scrambled to leave the most popular recreation area in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday as a fast-moving brush fire swept through the area.
The blaze, referred to as the Tecolote Fire, started up around 2:30 p.m. and has scorched more than 400 acres near San Gabriel Canyon and East Fork roads, north of Azusa, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The California Highway Patrol has closed Highway 39 to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
At least 200 firefighters and several helicopters were sent to battle the flames, which spread quickly amid the hot, dry weather, LACFD said.
As of 8 p.m., the fire was five percent contained. Firefighters said that number wasn’t reflective of their progress and that they had an upper hand on the blaze.
“They’re going to be working overnight to make sure there’s no flareups that we have to take car of,” said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service. “This fire first started, you know it was raging really quickly, it went from 10 acres to 20 acres to 100 acres within 10 minutes.”
Thousands of visitors were evacuated from the swimming holes, picnic grounds, trails and back-country campgrounds along the west fork and north fork of the San Gabriel River.
Officials said they’re still investigating the cause of the Tecolote Fire.