Brush That Last Burned in 1929 Is Fueling Calif. Fire

3K evacuated in Powerhouse blaze

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 3, 2013 8:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – A California wildfire has burned some 35 square miles north of Los Angeles and prompted evacuation orders for almost 3,000 people. Part of its fuel: "extremely old and dry" brush that last burned in 1929, a US Forest Service official explained yesterday, per the AP. Some 2,100 firefighters are battling the so-called Powerhouse blaze, whose size tripled in 12 hours this weekend, the Los Angeles Times reports. Behind the rapid expansion: wind. Gusts hit 40mph yesterday, creating what the Times calls a "chimney effect" in the canyons.

"At 10:55[pm], we thought we were OK. At 11, we saw the flames come over the ridge and we left. It was that fast," says a local resident. But firefighters saw some hope last night as temperatures and wind speeds dropped; officials today say the blaze is holding. No word yet on the cause. The fire is one of several in the western US, with two others roaring in New Mexico, the AP notes. A 12-square-mile blaze in the Santa Fe National Forest has prompted the evacuation of some 140 homes, while a smaller fire near Jemez Springs saw dozens of homes evacuated.

A helicopter pulls water out of Hughes Lake to fight what has been called the Powerhouse fire in Lake Hughes, Calif., late Sunday afternoon, June 2, 2013.
A helicopter pulls water out of Hughes Lake to fight what has been called the Powerhouse fire in Lake Hughes, Calif., late Sunday afternoon, June 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A Los Angeles County firefighter approaches a fire along a road in what has been called the Powerhouse fire in Lake Hughes, Calif., early Sunday, June 2, 2013.
A Los Angeles County firefighter approaches a fire along a road in what has been called the Powerhouse fire in Lake Hughes, Calif., early Sunday, June 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A charred rowboat sits amid the stubble of burned bulrushes on the edge of Lake Hughes after the Powerhouse fire swept through Lake Hughes, Calif., Sunday, June 2, 2013.
A charred rowboat sits amid the stubble of burned bulrushes on the edge of Lake Hughes after the Powerhouse fire swept through Lake Hughes, Calif., Sunday, June 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
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