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UPDATE: Saugus Brush fire held to 4 acres despite high winds

Some homes evacuated, but no damage or injuries reported

Posted: April 8, 2013 2:59 p.m.
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:44 p.m.

A helicopter drops water at the scene of a brush fire off Bouquet Canyon and Esguerra roads in Saugus on Monday. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

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Winds approaching hurricane force whipped flames through brush in Saugus on Monday, prompting swift reaction from firefighters who halted the blaze after it blackened more than four acres in Bouquet Canyon.

Sparks from a downed power line possibly toppled by the wind are believed to have ignited the brush fire around 2:30 p.m. in the hills east of Bouquet Canyon Road at Esguerra Road, said Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp of Emergency Operations for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Unusually high winds threatened to push the fire in the direction of structures, Tripp said, prompting fire officials to call in additional firefighters and helicopter support.

Winds in the Santa Clarita Valley were logged by National Weather Service meteorologists at 40 mph to 60 mph, with at least one gust recorded at 74 mph.

“This was a hurricane-force wind,” said meterologist Todd Hall. “Hurricane winds start at 74 miles per hour.”

The gusty winds created an urgent situation for fire officials worried about flames reaching Saugus structures near Monday’s fire.

Firefighters reported the flames heading in a northerly direction, then apparently swirling in the canyon and heading eastward, then southeastward.

Within about 30 minutes, however, more than two dozen firefighters with hoses and shovels had doused the flames. The fire was officially brought under control at 3:37 p.m.

No one was hurt in the operation and no structure was burned, Tripp said.

“We sent a first alarm,” he said. “Because of the wind sending the fire toward the structures, we requested a second alarm.

“Luckily, when the first-alarm resources got here we were able to pinch it off and the second alarm became a contingency in case it got into those structures.”

Angeles National Forest firefighters hit the fire on one flank while county firefighters confronted it on the opposite flank, Tripp said.

The fire crested the hilltop, but because of sparse fuel there, it did not pose a threat.

Bouquet Canyon near the intersection with Esguerra Road is a sparsely populated area with a stream bed, chaparral-covered hills and custom homes built on acreage. Some of the homes were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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