New round of evacuations as Calif. wildfire creeps closer
Eds: UPDATES with details of evacuation, firefighters' efforts, winds calmer on Sunday.
AP Photo CADS103, CADS102, CADS101, CADS107, CADS109, CADS106, CADS108
SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (AP) -- A wildfire that broke out in a popular hiking area blackened the steep slopes of the foothills near Pasadena and forced mandatory evacuations for 300 homes, authorities said Sunday.
Two hundred homes around Sierra Madre were evacuated Saturday night and residents from 100 other properties were told to leave Sunday, Elisa Weaver of the Arcadia Fire Department said, as the wildfire continued to burn its way through dense brush. Sierra Madre is about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles and just east of Pasadena.
No homes were damaged, though a small outbuilding used for storing firefighting equipment was destroyed, Weaver said.
Weaver said more than 400 firefighters were attacking the 350-acre fire, aided by two helicopters with two water-dropping air tankers on the way. The fire was 5 percent contained and was expected to burn for another two or three days.
"This is pretty serious," Weaver said. "Some of these areas have not burned in over 40 years."
The cause of the blaze remained under investigation.
The fire was first reported Saturday afternoon in a wooded area a few miles northeast of Pasadena. It was windy at the time and unseasonably hot, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees.
The flames also brought the evacuation of a Boy Scout camp Saturday and left about 100 hikers stranded in a parking lot near Chantry Flats. Most of the Scouts had already left the camp by the time the evacuation was ordered, Weaver said, and no injuries were reported.
Firefighters originally had hoped to have the blaze contained Sunday, but gusting winds late Saturday night kept the fire burning out of control and creeping toward nearby homes. The mandatory home evacuations came shortly before 11 p.m.
Weaver said winds were calm early Sunday, boosting firefighter efforts.
Two shelters have been set up in the area for evacuees.
Flames outlined steep ridges about a mile above Sierra Madre, a San Gabriel Mountains foothill community of about 11,000 popular with artists.