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Glendora-area fire burns 2,500 acres as a heat wave hits the Southland

Glendora-area fire burns 2,500 acres as a heat wave hits the Southland
Firefighters battle a brush fire that erupted Friday in the Angeles National Forest above Azusa. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

With a record heat wave rolling across the Southland, firefighters battled two fast-moving blazes Saturday as residents endured temperatures that reached 107 degrees in some areas.

A wildfire that began Friday several miles north of Glendora grew nearly 40% overnight to 2,500 acres, jumping across a highway and destroying three cabins and an outhouse in a camping area, officials said. The Cabin fire was 0% contained Saturday afternoon. A separate blaze that also ignited Friday, the Rustic fire, burned nearly 190 acres in the Simi Valley area before firefighters contained it Saturday morning, said Capt. Scott Dettorre of the Ventura County Fire Department.

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More than 400 firefighters and several helicopters and air tankers are still battling the Cabin fire, said Joel Gonzalez, a spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service. Five campgrounds have been evacuated, and a section of Highway 39 between Sierra Madre and Highway 2 has been closed for the rest of the weekend.

At least seven firefighters were injured battling the blazes, suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and one bee sting. The causes of the fires remain under investigation.

High temperatures and fires are a dangerous combination, but relatively calm winds have helped, Dettorre said. The main danger from this weekend's heat, which is expected to continue Sunday, has been to firefighters themselves, who are at greater risk for heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings for the San Gabriel Valley, the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Fernando Valley, said Scott Sukup, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Burbank Airport recorded a temperature of 104, three degrees higher than the record set in 1977. At Long Beach Airport it was 99 degrees, beating the record of 97 set in 1992.

Some areas in the San Fernando Valley checked in even higher at 107 degrees, said meteorologist Joe Sirard.

Work continued as normal at Mike Georgia's landscaping company, which gets busy during particularly hot weeks when customers are willing to pay to avoid being outside, he said. He said his crew works from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day.

"We're all adults, we all have bills to pay, so we just have to deal with this in a reasonable way," Georgia said.

Tens of thousands of people headed for the ocean, trying to cool off in the 70-degree water. Beaches were nearly at capacity by 3 p.m., said Chris Linkletter, lifeguard section chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"I think it's too hot for people to exercise," Linkletter said. "People are just lying down, going in the water and coming out."

Temperatures are expected to cool slightly beginning Monday and throughout the week, thanks to a stronger sea breeze, Sirard said.

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