Homes Damaged, Residents Forced to Evacuate in California Brush Fires

An image from a video recorded by Angela Dallman shows a brush fire threatening homes on Saturday, June 4, 2016 in Calabasas, Calif. / ANGELA DALLMAN
An image from a video recorded by Angela Dallman shows a brush fire threatening homes on Saturday, June 4, 2016 in Calabasas, Calif. / ANGELA DALLMAN

A fast-moving brush fire sweeping through hills northwest of downtown Los Angeles damaged homes and prompted neighborhood evacuations, CBS Los Angeles reported.

The blaze was one of several that erupted late Saturday afternoon in Calabasas and West Hills. The West Hills blaze was out but those in Calabasas combined to torch at least 200 acres in a matter of hours.

The Old Fire, as if has been labeled, was burning along ridgelines at Mullholland Highway near Old Topanga Canyon Road. Fifty-foot-high flames torched trees and brush very close to million-dollar Spanish-style homes below.

Several dozen homes in three neighborhoods were ordered to be evacuated. The blaze damaged some homes and outbuildings at a preschool, although more specific information on the structures lost was not available.

Three neighborhoods that crowded on twisty streets below the hillsides were ordered evacuated.

About 60 to 70 homes were under evacuation orders, fire Capt. Keith Mora estimated, with some 5,000 people impacted. A Red Cross evacuation center was opened at Agoura High School in nearby Agoura Hills.

Los Angeles County fire dispatcher Cindy Marshall said some 200 firefighters were battling the flames along with water-dropping helicopters. More aircraft had been ordered.

Temperatures were in the mid-90s. Smoke from the fire could be seen for miles.

Authorities said the blaze may have started when a car hit a pole, knocking down a power line.

Elsewhere, a brush fire in north San Diego County burned at least 70 acres along Interstate 15 in Temecula, according to CBS affiliate KFMB.

State fire officials said no homes were threatened, but authorities closed southbound lanes of the freeway as they fought the fire, which was about 20 percent contained as of late Saturday.

In New Mexico, a wildfire was burning nearly 12 square miles in the San Mateo Mountains near Magdalena, about 100 miles southwest of Albuquerque. The fire was caused by lightning and is 20 percent contained.

Arizona firefighters were battling a much larger blaze. The Juniper Fire just south of the town of Young had scorched more than 28 square miles in the Tonto National Forest. That fire was also 20 percent contained and was caused by lightning.

Fire officials said the extreme heat and a dry winter mean there’s a high risk of wildfires. Summer has typically been considered wildfire season but experts now say blazes happen year-round.

SOURCE: CBS / AP