Griffith Park Brush Fire Burns 25 Acres, Griffith Observatory Closes

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A brush fire broke out this afternoon in Griffith Park, sending up smoke that could be seen for miles and prompting the evacuation and closure of the nearby Griffith Observatory. The fire was reported at 2:09 p.m. northwest of the observatory and was initially estimated at about two acres. 

By about 3:30 p.m., the forward progress of the blaze was halted, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott, who said a ``handful'' of vehicles were damaged or destroyed along Observatory Road. At 5 p.m., Scott said that about 25 acres had burned and the fire was 80 percent contained. 

Helicopters from the city and county fire departments made water drops as about 200 firefighters on the ground battled the flames, which burned amid light winds in ``light, flashy fuels'' and was described by LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey as topography-driven. The observatory was evacuated and will not reopen for the balance of the day, according to the city Department of Recreation and Parks. 

About 2,000 people were evacuated from the landmark and some were being shuttled aboard buses to pick up their vehicles, Scott said. 

Vermont Avenue and Fern Dell Drive were closed at Los Feliz Boulevard leading into the park, according to Scott, who said anyone already in the park who was separated because of the blaze was advised to rendezvous at the Greek Theatre at 2700 N. Vermont Ave. 

A concert at the theater was scheduled to go on tonight as planned, Scott said. Gates were expected to open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. concert by the electronic duo Sylvan Esso. Some crews were released three hours after the fire was reported and Scott said that drones would be used to monitor hot spots and remote fire-affected areas.No injuries were reported.

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