LAKE HUGHES (CNS) - All remaining evacuees from the 31,089-acre brushfire near Lake Hughes will be allowed to return today as containment of the blaze increased to 65%.
Evacuation orders will be lifted at 10 a.m. for residents east of Old Ridge Route, west of Kings Canyon Road, north of Pine Canyon Road and south of Highway 138 and California Aqueduct, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Residents on Kings Canyon Road east to Shafer Road were allowed to return home Monday morning.
Residents of Pine and Kings canyons, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Lake Fire, were escorted back into the area Saturday and Sunday, authorities said.
The fire has destroyed 12 structures and 21 outbuildings and damaged six other structures, according to the U.S. Forest Service. An estimated 1,305 firefighters remained assigned to battling the blaze on Monday evening.
Officials said two people were injured as a result of the fire, but details were not disclosed.
The fire was 58% contained Monday morning and 65% in the evening. Full containment was not expected until Sept. 2.
Overnight temperatures will be near 70-75 degrees, with humidity in the 50%-60% range with winds forecasted out of the west and southwest at 5-10 mph with gusts up to 15 mph.
“Due to higher humidity, crews are planning a direct attack on the west flank of the fire,'' according to a statement from the Forest Service. “A direct attack strategy works well with high moisture and light winds, and it enables firefighters to work closely to the fire's edge to build containment line.''
The fire was expected to continue growing west in areas with no recent fire history and north and northwest until it transitions to the lighter high-desert fuels of the western Antelope Valley.
Firefighters on Monday were tackling the fire in some hard to reach places with potentially hazardous conditions.
One such hazard is the Yucca plant, fire officials said. When the plant is burned, the pineapple-sized root ball is released from the soil and can roll downhill spreading flames beyond containment lines.
Smoke advisories were extended through Monday as a result of the fire, with elevated fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels but the smoke production has decreased and was moving north into the Angeles National Forest but could still impact the Santa Clarita area, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Road closures remained in place on Lake Hughes Road from Ridge Route Road to Deeswood Drive, San Francisquito Canyon/Dry Gulch Roads to Lake Hughes Road, and Lake Hughes Road east to Park Road.
The fire was first reported about 3:30 p.m. Aug. 12 near North Lake Hughes Road and Pine Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, according to the U. S. Forest Service, which was battling the blaze with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and assistance from other area departments.
“There have been areas of this fire that have not burned in decades, (and) it's in inaccessible terrain, which has added to the complexity of the fire,'' said Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby.
The U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and many other cooperating agencies were working together to battle the fire, with the Incident Command Post located in the Castaic Lake Recreation Area.
Castaic Lake remained closed to public access until further notice. Fire personnel were using the lake and surrounding areas as a base camp.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to help ensure resources to combat multiple fires burning across the state.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
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