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Evacuations lifted for Ranch fire burning near Azusa after blaze threatens hillside homes

Residents of Azusa’s Mountain Cove community can return to their homes after a brush fire triggered evacuations in the area Thursday.

The Azusa Police Department lifted the evacuation order for the neighborhood at 11 p.m.

Officials added that emergency vehicles will remain on scene to monitor the fire for the next 72 hours.

Northbound Highway 39 remains closed at Sierra Madre Avenue, while the southbound lanes are blocked at East Fork Road, officials said.

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The blaze, now dubbed the Ranch 2 fire, was first reported about 2:45 p.m. near North San Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department spokeswoman Leslie Lua.

As of Thursday night, the fire had charred 3,000 acres with no containment, according to fire officials.

The Ranch 2 fire is one of a handful of blazes that have kept Southern California firefighters busy this week.

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Crews quickly jumped on a brush fire by Galster Wilderness Park in the city of West Covina on Thursday afternoon, stopping its forward progress after flames consumed a few acres.

Progress also was reported on the far larger Lake fire, which has burned 11,000 acres and destroyed three structures in the Lake Hughes area.

That fire was 12% contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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Officials say Southern California may be entering a new chapter of its fire season. Vegetation has dried and is now prone to ignition, authorities say, and the arrival of the searing Santa Ana winds will only heighten the fire risk.

L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Thursday that “over 90% of fires are human caused” every year, underscoring the need for residents to be cautious and prepared.

“It’s going to be a hot, dry summer,” he said.

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The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for much of Southern California through the weekend due to a heat wave that will boost temperatures anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees above normal.

However, winds are expected to remain relatively calm, according to Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“High heat, low humidity means that fires surely will start more readily, but it’s the winds that really drive them,” she said. “So, as long as the winds stay low, which they will, the conditions are not extreme.”


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