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Powerhouse fire bears down on lake communities

Fueled by 100-degree temperatures and shifting winds, the Powerhouse fire swept into the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth areas Saturday night, threatening homes and forcing new evacuations.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said there were unconfirmed reports that structures had burned in the Lake Hughes area, but the smoke was too thick and visibility too poor to confirm. The three-day-old fire has burned 5,661 acres and is only 20% contained.

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The Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s departments ordered evacuations Saturday night from San Francisquito Canyon Road to Elizabeth Lake Road and areas south of Lake Hughes Road.

PHOTOS: Powerhouse fire

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A Red Cross evacuation center was set up at the Marie Kerr Park recreation center at 2723-A Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale. An evacuation site for large animals has been set up at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 2551 West Avenue H in Lancaster.

Officials had worried that hot weather and winds Saturday could drive the fire toward homes.

Temperatures in the fire zone were topping 100 degrees, with relative humidity in the single digits. “It’s going to be very hot and dry with not a whole lot of wind,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sukup in Oxnard.

Beginning Sunday, conditions should start to improve, Sukup said. “Relative humidity should be increasing as the marine layer returns tomorrow,” he said. Sunday’s highs in the fire zone are forecast to be in the upper 80s and low 90s, with about 20% to 30% relative humidity.

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MAP: Evacuation areas, road closures and more

The flames are chewing through dried-out brush and chaparral in the steep, rugged terrain not far from Castaic Lake. So far, one structure has burned and two minor injuries to crew members have been reported, officials said. Both injured firefighters were back on the fire line Saturday, said Nathan Judy, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

In addition to the firefighters, 10 fixed-wing aircraft and eight air tankers were battling the blaze, which broke out shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday near a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power station in San Francisquito Canyon near Drinkwater Reservoir, officials said.

FULL COVERAGE: Powerhouse fire

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

rosanna.xia@latimes.com


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