California Wildfire Threatens Homes

Flames from a 30,000-acre wildfire crawled to within miles of 700 hillside homes across the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and threatened rustic cabins in the Angeles National Forest.


CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) -- Flames from a 30,000-acre wildfire crawled to within miles of 700 hillside homes across the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and threatened rustic cabins in the Angeles National Forest.

The blaze was about two miles from Mount Baldy Village, a small community 4,000 feet up its namesake mountain, and several miles from suburban foothill homes, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

Ron Raley, the U.S. Forest Service incident commander, said the fire probably would continue burning northward until it reaches an area burned out when a 16,000-acre blaze earlier this month destroyed 72 buildings.

It was the larger of two wildfire blazes in California early Thursday. The other, a 3,142-acre fire south of San Jose, was 30 percent contained after destroying 30 structures, including 11 homes, since Monday.

The blaze in the Angeles National Forest forced the closure of the entire 650,000-acre forest to all but commuters who use mountain highways between the Los Angeles Basin and Mojave Desert.

The blaze has incinerated 71 cabins and other buildings, but lack of a strong wind was helping firefighters keep it out of the sprawling suburban tracts that curl around forest wildlands and canyons 30 to 45 miles east of Los Angeles.

One of those who lost a cabin was Pamela Rowlette, who was left homeless along with her toddler son and 19-year-old daughter. ``I have nowhere else to go,'' she said Wednesday evening as her daughter sorted through bags of donated clothes at a Red Cross shelter.

Containment was estimated at just 10 percent as flames moved both east and west along a 15-mile-long line. About 2,700 firefighters worked the lines as 35 helicopters and airplanes attacked the flames from the above.

``We just simply cannot allow another ignition to create an inferno like we've had here that continues to threaten communities all along the Angeles area,'' said

Hundreds of people were ordered to leave Mount Baldy Village on Tuesday, but about 50 chose to remain. At Mount Baldy Lodge, built in 1914, owner Missy Ellingson fielded calls from concerned evacuees.

``A lot of people were really devastated. It's scary,'' she said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, dozens of firefighters and helicopters worked Thursday to halt the advance of flames along the Santa Clara-Santa Cruz County line near San Jose. The intense flames shot 30 feet into the air and ashes snowed down.

Santa Clara County officials declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, letting them bring in additional outside resources and get disaster relief for residents, according to Pete Kutras, assistant county executive.

State fire officials believe the fire began Monday inside a trailer home located in an area that law enforcement officials say is a frequent dumping ground for the remains of methamphetamine labs.