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Officials still looking for fire cause

Jackson Bell

Although a fire that broke out in the Verdugo Mountains this week was

fully contained, Burbank Fire Department officials have closed

Wildwood Canyon through Sunday as a precautionary measure.

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The fire started about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday near a catch basin around

Country Club Drive and spread into the canyon near De Bell Municipal

Golf Course. The blaze, which burned 80 acres instead of 150 acres as

initially reported by fire officials, was contained Wednesday.

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On Thursday, Assistant Chief Norm Stockton ordered Wildwood Canyon

off limits to pedestrians because Santa Ana winds are expected to

pick up this weekend, creating potential flare-ups.

At its peak, more than 100 fire- fighters and water-carrying

helicopters battled the blaze. The high levels of brush and Tuesday’s

101-degree temperatures fueled the flames.

No structures were damaged, but an unidentified Burbank

firefighter suffered a minor burn to his neck from hot embers and was

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treated at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and the Grossman Burn

Center in Sherman Oaks, Burbank Fire Capt. Ron Bell said.

Arson investigators, meanwhile, continued to work to determine the

cause of the fire, Bell said.

“All we can say is that there is no obvious source in the area or

origin,” he said. "[The fire] was suspicious because the area has no

obvious causes like a down power line or car accident -- there’s

nothing but trails.”

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The fire department, he added, is investigating several phone

calls it has received from residents who claim they saw suspicious

people and vehicles in the area.

Air quality in Burbank was not greatly affected by the blaze, said

Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management

District. Officials at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center said they

have seen no increases of patients complaining about respiratory

ailments.

Fire officials have no estimate as to how much the firefighting

efforts cost, but a mutual-aid program in which Southland fire

departments assist each other reduced expenses, Bell said. Early

Friday morning, Burbank Fire engines 11 and 14 helped fight an

ongoing fire in Fontana.

Anyone with information on how the Burbank fire was started is

asked to call the Burbank Fire Department at 238-3473.


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