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'Lake Fire' Near Lake Hughes Explodes To 10,000 Acres In 'Extreme' Fire Conditions

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A brush fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon grew to 6,000 acres in the first hour alone. (Courtesy LA County Fire Air Ops via Twitter)
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Get the latest>> Lake Fire Updates: What We Know So Far As The Wildfire Grows In Lake Hughes

A fast-moving fire that broke out this afternoon in extreme fire conditions near Lake Hughes has pushed people out of at least 100 homes as it rapidly grew to 10,000 acres within hours of igniting.

Shortly after 8 p.m., sheriff's officials cautioned that the fire continued to move in a "north easterly" direction exhibiting "extreme fire behavior."

L.A. County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson provided some key updates at a news briefing tonight:

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  • Currently there are more than 100 structures, including homes and outbuildings, within the primary evacuation areas
  • 500 firefighters are on scene, including 300 L.A. County firefighters and an additional 200 firefighters from multiple agencies, including units from the city of L.A., Orange County, Ventura County and other L.A. County fire departments.

"Keep in mind this is a major fire," Richardson said, "...we will be out here for days to come."
He also cautioned that the Lake Fire comes early in the fire season and is "moving without any or minimal winds." Richardson added that the story will be different in a few months when the Santa Ana winds kick in.

The fire, located in an area that officials said hasn't burned since 1968, has moved from chaparral fuels into heavier fuel areas, making it tougher to tackle. One official called it "a recipe for rapid fire growth."

Still, firefighters are hoping favorable conditions overnight make it possible to bring the fire under control.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is assisting with evacuations, which expanded to include about 100 homes under mandatory evacuations within hours of the fire's start. Because of COVID-19, traditional shelter space cannot be set up. So the shelter locations are for people staying in their cars.

The fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. At 4:22 p.m., the Los Angeles County Fire Department said via Twitter that the Lake Fire had the potential to grow to 1,000 acres. Just over one hour later it was reported that it had expanded to 6,000 acres. Then 7,000 acres. By 6:30 p.m. it had reached 10,000.

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Fire crews from L.A. County Fire, Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and Ventura County Fire all rushed to fight the quickly moving blaze.

For perspective on that 10,000 acre figure, there are 640 acres in one square mile. So that means the fire is occurring within an area of roughly 15 square miles. That doesn’t mean that every bit of that area is on fire, but this early in the spread of the fire it can describe the area where fire is being seen.

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 10,000 acres
  • Containment: 0%
  • Homes are threatened
  • Resources deployed: 21 strike teams deployed/requested
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MANDATORY EVACUATIONS

  • Northwest of Lake Hughes Road and Lake Elizabeth Road
  • West Trail Mtn View Road in Lake Hughes Community
  • Everything south of Hwy 138, all the way west to Old Ridge Route, including Pine Canyon community

EVACUATION CENTERS

People:

  • Highland High School | 39055 25th St., West Palmdale

Animals:

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  • Castaic Animal Care Center (31044 Charlie Canyon Rd)
  • Lancaster Animal Care Center (5210 W. Avenue I)
  • Palmdale Animal Care Center (38550 Sierra Highway)
  • Antelope Valley Fairgrounds - large animals only (2551 W. Avenue H in Lancaster)
  • Castaic Fairgrounds

ROAD CLOSURES

  • Lake Hughes Road is currently closed from Castaic to Pine Canyon.
  • 3 Points Rd to Pine Canyon Rd
  • Ridge Route to Lake Hughes
  • Pine Canyon Rd at Highway 138

WEATHER CONDITIONS

Fire officials said temperatures in the area were in the mid 90s, with single-digit humidity. As of August 1, the Angeles National Forest had increased the fire threat from "very high" to "extreme." Parts of the area on fire had not burned since 1968, according to officials.

THE BACKGROUND

The fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. near Pine Canyon. Fire officials said the fire grew to more than 100 acres in the first few minutes after it ignited. No cause had yet been determined.

SCENES OF THE FIRE

Within an hour of the fire's start a pyrocumulus cloud had formed, climbing high into the sky, making smoke visible as far as Santa Cruz Island, roughly 100 miles away.

The tall, intimidating clouds build as extreme heat from the fire causes air to rise, which then cools and condenses as it climbs higher into the atmosphere. That smoke can then spread across hundreds, if not thousands of miles. In some instances thunderstorms can form, which can mean lightning, which can mean even more fires.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

Science reporter Jacob Margolis is reporting on the fire and our infrastructure reporter Sharon McNary is also contributing context about fires. This is a developing story. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

We'll update this story as we learn more.

MORE ON THIS YEAR'S WILDFIRE SEASON:

FIRE RESOURCES

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