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A monster wildfire threatens several foothill communities

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Photo: Irfan Khan/ Los Angeles Times —An air attack on a flank of the wildfire approaching Acton.

That stubborn wildfire menacing several foothill communities north of Los Angeles has grown into a monster blaze. Today officials estimate more than 35, 000 acres have been scorched and thousands of homes are in danger forcing residents to pack-up and leave.

Fire crews are battling in hot temperatures to save homes in a number of neighborhoods. Some folks in La Canada are being allowed to return, but the threat is not over for other areas. The wildfire is spreading in a number of directions. A flank of the fire is bearing down on the Antelope Valley enclave of Acton. Most of the residents of that town have been evacuated as fire crews prepare to face off against the rampaging wildfire. The winds reportedly are kicking up in the area as well.

 Also the landmark Mt. Wilson site, an important communication center for police, fire, and the media, is reportedly in the path of some of those fast moving flames. Fire Officials say efforts to save it continue.

Meanwhile, the air quality was pretty bad today due to this wildfire and others burning in the Southland. This morning in Burbank, the air was hazy with smoke and smelled of brushfire. By the afternoon, the air had cleared somewhat and you could see the bellowing clouds of smoke from the fire in the Angeles National Forest against the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains.  

UPDATE 8:50 p.m.

Two Los Angeles County firefighters were killed when the truck they were riding in went off a road and rolled over near Acton. The firefighters are the first deaths reported in the Angeles National Forest wildfire. Three civilians have been injured in this fire was well. Also, 18 homes destroyed, mostly in the Big Tujunga Canyon,  and that number is expected to go higher.

The fire has now burned 42,500 acres. There will be 1,800 firefighters on the lines through the night. So far the cost for fighting that fire, $7.7 million.


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