CASTAIC >> Crews on Sunday took advantage of cooler overnight temperatures to beat back a wildfire that broke out near Castaic Lake amid a heat wave Saturday.
Officials said the Lake fire, which began Saturday afternoon as a wind-blown fire in terrain near the 5 Freeway, was holding at 800 acres and 20 percent contained Sunday.
“Firefighters will be working throughout the day utilizing aircraft and troops on the ground to fight this fire,” Angeles National Forest spokesman Nathan Judy said Sunday. “We have some smoldering spots within the fire perimeter and some brush that’s inside the line itself that will catch fire this afternoon, so if you see some smoke it’s just due to those interior islands of fuel that haven’t burned off yet.”
A firefighter suffered a minor injury battling the blaze just after 10 a.m. and was taken to an area hospital, Judy said, adding that the upper northeastern portion of the lake has been closed.
The fire, which had burned two outbuildings Saturday night, is in dry, difficult terrain and arson units are investigating the fire’s origin. The location of the fire is the peninsula northwest of the upper Castaic Lake, Judy said.
“We have fire crews all around this fire” he said. “The east side of the perimeter is where we’ll be working [Sunday afternoon] to make sure we can tie the dozer line, which is up to the north of us, down to the lake itself.”
No homes are currently threatened, according to Judy.
The fire was first reported around 2 p.m. Saturday and by 9 p.m. had burned 1,000 acres.
“It’s a largely recreational area,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Richard Licon said Saturday. “We are directing those that are in the area just know that the air quality is going to be poor.”
Judy said 450 personnel are working to battle the fire, including overnight and Sunday firefighters from the ground and aircraft. Additionally, nine aircraft are “committed” to fighting the fire but are not all used at once, Judy said.
Fire personnel know it will continue to be hot with temperatures in the 100s, Judy said, while humidity will be in the teens, but they remain optimistic.
“The winds for the most part are going to remain low,” Judy said, with winds ranging from 4 to 8 mph and gusts up to 13 mph as of noon Sunday. “The winds aren’t as big of a concern as the heat. We’re just making sure our firefighters are staying hydrated when they’re out on the fire line.”
The National Weather Service had forecast the high to be 102 degrees in the area Sunday with a southwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph.
Judy said the U.S. Forest Service was requested to the scene for a brush fire call Saturday afternoon.
When the forest service arrived, the incident was at 50 acres before it “grew exponentially” from grasses in the area that fueled the flames.
The fire eventually slowed down as it moved through the terrain, which gave firefighters enough time to attack it by boat and from the air, Judy said. Fire crews were initially transported via boat to fight the fire, he added.
Officials were later able to find another road off Templin Highway that took them around to the back of the west side, which is the flank of the fire, Judy said.
“And that allowed us to get engines and hand crews over on the west side, where they were able to work off the dirt road that was in the area to slow the progression of the fire using that natural barrier of that road,” he said.
Judy expects the containment number to increase, and he doesn’t expect the acreage to grew unless there’s a large wind push or fire spots found outside the line.
The west side of the recreation area with a boat launch is open, but the east side, where fire crews are at and is called the main boat launch, is closed.
He asked people who are boating to stay away from the peninsula with the smoldering smoke where fire personnel are working.
The cause of the fire is under investigation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.