Firefighters make quick work of blaze

U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County firefighters used teamwork on Sunday to quickly extinguish a small wildfire that broke out in the Angeles National Forest near the Horse Flats Campground, about 28 miles above La Cañada Flintridge.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter spotted the blaze at 2:51 p.m. while responding to that day’s fatal motorcycle crash elsewhere on Angeles Crest Highway, said the Forest Service’s Nathan Judy, fire information officer for Angeles National Forest. The fire burned at an area about a half mile from the highway.

The Forest Service responded to the blaze with six fire engines, a water truck and a crew on foot, Judy said. The agency also called in aerial water drops by a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter.

The fire was extinguished by around 5 p.m. after it burned approximately one acre of brush. Its cause remains under investigation, Judy said.

“It didn’t burn very hot. We still have a lot of fuel moisture in that area,” said Judy, who described the flames as creeping through medium to heavy brush.

County firefighters made eight water drops with a Firehawk helicopter, said L.A. County Fire Assistant Chief Jim Crawford, who heads the department’s Air and Wildland Division.

The Forest Service has long maintained mutual aid and assistance-by-hire agreements with L.A. County Fire for daytime aerial drops and other firefighting assistance.

The agencies also recently reached a new agreement allowing forest officials to call on the county for nighttime aerial water drops in the Angeles National Forest.

The Forest Service, which is still studying feasibility of maintaining its own nighttime firefighting air fleet, was criticized for not using night water drops as the August 2009 Station fire spread into the largest wildfire in L.A. County history.

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