A fast-moving brush fire erupted near a huge amusement and water park in Southern California on Sunday, sending hundreds of visitors to the exit to escape clouds of smoke and ash before fire officials asked them to stay put while they worked to contain the blaze. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor announced the evacuation shortly after noon, citing concern for the safety of park visitors and employees. About a half-hour later, the park said on its Twitter account that fire officials asked guests to shelter in place due to nearby road closures, the AP reports. Park visitors were asked to move to the back of the 260-acre property, away from firefighting activity near the entrance, says Rachel Gallat, who was visiting a friend who works at the park.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher tells the Los Angeles Times the park voluntarily evacuated visitors. "We did not tell them to do this," Melanie Flores says, adding that Los Angeles County fire officials say nine people were taken to the hospital due to smoke exposure. The blaze is 20% contained. Shalane Gonzales, 34, says she saw people running out of the park in bathing suits. "It was pretty scary. We saw trucks packing people," Gonzales says. "They were just telling people to load up on their truck beds." She says when she tried to drive to the entrance to pick up her partner and their two young sons, police told her to return to the parking lot. "The fire was feet away from where we were," she said. The park later announced it was closed for the day after police reopened the roads, allowing everyone to leave in their cars.
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