More than 2,000 fire personnel from throughout California are now battling the nearly 20,000-acre Powerhouse fire that has destroyed six homes in the Palmdale area, officials said.
Fanned by erratic winds and 100-degree temperatures, the fire grew quickly overnight from 5,500 acres to 19,500 acres, forcing evacuations throughout the area, said Matt Corelli, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. The fire is 20% contained.
“We had winds and a canyon in alignment in the same direction,” Corelli said. “Once you got them parallel it was like a chimney effect, with the fire pushing through vegetation and embers were flying ahead [and igniting]. So you had fire on top of fire.”
Fire officials expect more favorable weather conditions Sunday, as temperatures drop to around 80 to 85 degrees, with humidity at about 20% and rising, officials said.
Winds had died down considerably early Sunday but were expected to kick back up later this afternoon, with gusts of up to 35 mph on ridges.
The fire is moving north of Elizabeth Lake Road toward Lancaster in a flatland area with less vegetation, officials said.
The fire 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. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Firefighters from the Klamath National Forest to San Diego were helping to battle the blaze, Corelli said. Hundreds of residents in the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth areas were evacuated overnight. Three water-dropping helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft flew throughout the night to protect homes from the blaze, Corelli said.
Three firefighters suffered minor heat-related injuries, officials said. In addition to the six homes destroyed, up to nine other structures were believed to be damaged or destroyed, officials said.
Full containment was originally expected by Wednesday but Corelli said that could be pushed back a day or two.