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Fire chars part of forest

More than 500 firefighters battle wildfire over 400 acres

Posted: July 13, 2009 10:55 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

An Aero Union P-3 Tanker 00 makes a drop near the Osito Canyon area after a fire broke out Monday afternoon. The Osito Fire backed up traffic north of Templin after two lanes of Interstate 5 were closed due to the fire.

Firefighters made some progress in battling a blaze near Pyramid Lake that had quickly spread to more than 400 acres, briefly threatening oil, gas and power lines in the area, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said.

More than 500 firefighters had the wildfire about 50 percent contained at 7:30 p.m., but two lanes on a mile-long stretch of the Interstate 5 south of Vista Del Lago would probably remain closed overnight, said spokeswoman Dee Deckert.

The "Osito" fire began in the Angeles National Forest about 12:15 p.m. and spread to more than 100 acres within an hour in winds of up to 10 miles per hour.

On Monday afternoon, traffic on the freeway had slowed to a crawl as firefighters used the two right lanes on the northbound I-5 to park their vehicles.

The blaze was burning grass and brush covering rugged terrain east of the freeway. No structures were threatened, nor were any evacuation orders issued.

Officials do not know what caused the blaze and have not contained it, Deckert said.

"We won't leave any stone unturned, nor any leaf or pine needle or anything," she said.

The blaze comes just days after the Angeles National Forest issued a "very high" fire danger alert for the forest areas, citing hot weather and dry fuel.

Officials have battled more than 80 fires in the forest since mid-May.


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