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UPDATED: Crossover Fire north of Castaic doused

Fire snarled I-5 rush-hour traffic

Posted: October 1, 2008 3:50 p.m.
Updated: December 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A SuperScooper drops water on the Crossover Fire on Wednesday. The SuperScooper refilled at Castaic Lake during the afternoon blaze that burned more than 75 acres along Interstate 5.

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UPDATED 1:20 p.m. Thursday
The Crossover Fire is 100 percent contained as of 10 a.m.

Fire crews remain on the scene monitoring the fire and mopping up hot spots, according to a Forest Service statement.

The Crossover fire broke out about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, said John Lane, Divisional Chief for the United States Forest Service.

The fire burned 75 acres along the northbound edge of Interstate 5 just south of Templin Highway, and threatened several rural homes and power lines, he said.

Aircraft dumped water and retardant on the fire and quickly damped down most of the flames by Wednesday evening, Lane said. Ground crews worked through the night putting out hot spots and cleaning up, he said.

The fire slowed I-5 traffic to a crawl and several residents in the northern reaches of Castaic and Frazier Park used back roads to navigate home.

UPDATED 9:30 p.m. Wednesday
A brush fire scorched more than 75 acres along Interstate 5 south of Templin Highway on Wednesday and slowed rush-hour traffic to a crawl, a Forest Service official said.

The small brush fire broke out at the edge of the northbound side of I-5 where the northbound lanes cross over the southbound lanes, said John Lane, divisional chief for the Angeles National Forest.
The fire started at 4:45 p.m. and a steady west wind and hot weather helped it spread quickly, he said.

Los Angeles County Fire, City of Los Angeles Fire Department and the United States Forest Service arrived on scene within 20 minutes, Lane said. Lane dubbed the blaze the “Crossover Fire” which burned within the Angeles Forest boundary, giving tactical command to the Forest Service.

Four helicopters, two SuperScoopers, one air crane and two air tankers circled above the fire. The SuperScoopers, prop planes that dump water on large fires, skimmed nearby Castiac Lake to collect water before alternatively drenching the inferno. The air tankers, prop planes that dump fire retardant chemicals on large fires, swooped in on low passes over the flames and dropped the red retardant.

The one-two punch quickly reduced the fire. More than 100 ground personnel from local, state and federal fire agencies scaled the rugged terrain slowly closing in on the flames, Lane said.

“We are having a hard time getting to the fire because it is so close to the electrical lines,” Lane said. The electrical lines slapped together in the wind and arced. Sparks kept the ground personnel at bay.
The smell of smoke and a loud boom sent Gary Powell sprinting to his backyard. Powell lives on Ridge Route Road near Templin Highway. The fire burned less than a mile west of his home.

“It spread quickly. Luckily, they (firefighters) jumped on it quick,” he said.

Traffic crawled along I-5 after California Highway Patrol officers closed two lanes of the northbound I-5.

Sally Layne lives near Templin Highway and avoided the traffic by driving on Ridge Route Road.

“I heard about the fire on the radio and knew to avoid the highway,” she said.

Layne stopped along the road to watch the air attack.

“I worry about fire, but now they put them out fast,” she said.

Air attack helicopters and planes continued their relentless assault on the fire as sun began setting. Getting the fire knocked down by sunset is critical because air attack does not fly at night.

“We have the fire 45 percent contained,” Lane said at 6 p.m. He was sure the fire would be extinguished by sunset. “We’ll leave a crew out here the whole night to monitor and set up an incident command post,” he said.

Ground crews will spend the night stamping out spot fires and mopping up. Fire tends to lie down at night and smolder. Those smoldering small fires can reignite into large fires the next day, he said.
Investigators are determining the cause of the fire.

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