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Wildfire above Azusa in Angeles National Forest is 40% contained

#TecoloteFire size revised down from 400 acres to 275 due to better mapping. Fire is 40% contained

A wildfire north of Azusa that forced hundreds of people to evacuate their campsites, picnic areas and canyon homes is 40% contained and smaller than officials originally believed.

Firefighters made “a lot of progress” fighting the Tecolote fire overnight, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Shaun Rollman said. The fire had been just 5% contained as of Sunday night.

The size of the fire was also revised downward from 400 acres to 275 acres due to more precise mapping, according to the Forest Service.

Favorable weather conditions, such as a marine layer and increased humidity, helped firefighters gain on the blaze overnight.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Rollman said. “But we’re in much better shape than last night.”

The fire was first reported at Mile Marker 28 on Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest around 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The highway was closed north of the East Fork Road. 

The fire grew in size throughout the day as firefighters struggled to navigate steep, rugged terrain, officials said. Several water-dropping helicopters were called in to assist with the battle against the blaze, which burned in the forest about 18 miles north of Azusa.

Though the fire was not threatening any homes, Coldbrook Campground and the San Gabriel Canyon along Highway 39 were evacuated, the Forest Service said. Coldbrook has 22 campsites with up to eight people at each one, Rollman said. Hundreds of people were evacuated from San Gabriel Canyon, he added.

Scores of people picnicking and camping near a popular creek in the area also had to evacuate, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said, as did an area for off-road vehicles, affecting hundreds of riders.

Though evacuation orders were still in place Monday, residents living on East Fork were allowed back into their homes, officials said. The recreational buildings and areas north of Highway 39 were still closed, Judy said, as was the stretch of highway. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. There is no estimated time that the fire will be fully contained. 

Follow @MattStevensLAT for Westside coverage and breaking news

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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