Winds were blowing 20-25 mph with gusts of more than 40 mph, so fast that speakers at the news conference were difficult to hear with hard winds hitting the microphone.
“That has created havoc,” LA County Deputy Chief David Richardson said through the winds. “It’s had a huge impact on our operations.”
At least six homes burned to the ground overnight, and 15 more were scorched by flames, LA County fire Chief Daryl L. Osby said.
Mark Wadsworth, 64, said he was confident his house in Lake Elizabeth survived. He spent yesterday parked in his truck atop a ridge, watching plumes of smoke rise from the canyons below.
“I’ve got nowhere to go, so I’m just waiting for them to open the roads again and let me back in,” said Wadsworth. “I didn’t want to go to a shelter.”
The Red Cross opened evacuation centers in Palmdale and Lancaster. At Palmdale’s Marie Kerr Park Recreation Center, more than 100 residents awaited word on when they could return home.
A huge plume of smoke could be seen from much of various parts of northern Los Angeles County, and air-quality officials warned against strenuous outdoor activity.
The blaze broke out Thursday just north of Powerhouse No. 1, a hydroelectric plant near the Los Angeles Aqueduct, forcing about 200 evacuations in the mountain community of Green Valley. Several power lines were downed by the flames.
The wilderness area is a draw for boaters, campers and hikers. Crews and residents were being warned to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and bears that could be displaced by flames.
Evacuations remained in effect for several campgrounds and two youth probation camps. Several roads were closed.
In New Mexico, the forecast for moisture was not entirely good news. The potential thunderstorms also brought the possibility of lightning that could start new fires and gusty winds that could fan the blazes.