More Smoke Rises from LA Fire as Firefighters Conduct Backburns – September 8th, 200934.0N 118.2W
More smoke rose out of the Angeles National Forest yesterday as firefighters burned back heavy brush to contain the deadly arson fire in mountains north of Los Angeles. Here, the thick plume of smoke can be seen blowing northeast, while the city of Los Angeles hugs the coast below.
The blaze was 56 percent contained Monday morning, but Forest Service spokesman said firefighters would still be hard at work in order to prepare for the possibility of a rise in temperatures, a drop in humidity or an increase in winds.
Monday’s temperatures are expected to peak in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 30 degrees Celsius), giving firefighters a much needed break from last week’s triple-digits (temperatures of over 38ºC).
Fire officials said the blaze has blackened 157,220 acres, or 246 square miles, of forest as it burns deeper into the wilderness in its thirteenth day, reports Bureau News. Damage assessment teams counted 78 homes, two commercial buildings, and dozens of outbuildings destroyed by the flames.
Crews were hoping for gentle winds that would allow them to conduct back burns to remove fuels and create a buffer between the active flames on the eastern edge and the San Gabriels, the steepest mountain range in Southern California. What’s left of the fire wasn’t burning aggressively and was only feeding off of leaf litter on the ground and old growth and dead timber, reported the Fire Service.
About 4,600 firefighters soldiered on while investigators analyzed clues found at a burnt hillside near the Angeles Crest Highway, where the fire started. Officials have said the cause of the fire was arson, but have not released any findings. Because of the deaths of the two firefighters, Los Angeles County authorities opened a homicide investigation last week.