Brush Fire Burns Near 5 Freeway North of Los Angeles

The fire began on the west side of the 5 Freeway about 80 miles north of downtown Los Angeles

Fire crews are making "excellent progress" on a brush fire near the 5 Freeway north of Los Angeles, which grew to 550 acres late Tuesday afternoon and forced evacuations, authorities said.

Full Coverage: Southern California Wildfires

The fire started on the west side of the freeway at about 8:30 a.m. near Lebec (map). Dubbed the "Water Fire," the blaze climbed a brush-covered hillside and produced flames that shot up to 30 feet into the air, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Evacuation orders for the Digier Canyon area were lifted Tuesday night, the Kern County Fire Department said. All roads -- including a lane on the southbound 5 Freeway -- closed because of the fire have been reopened.

The evacuation area is near El Tejon Elementary School.

At mid-day, the containment was at 25 percent. By 4:30 p.m., containment doubled to 50 percent and the forward spread of the blaze had been stopped.

There were no reports of damage involving homes or other structures, but some 45 structures were threatened by Tuesday afternoon.

The initial report involved two grass fires on the side of the freeway. The two "fast running fires" joined as firefighters, including four water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers, responded, according to Kern County fire officials.

The cause has not been determined.

The Water fire began as firefighters continued to make progress against a 43-square mile wildfire in the mountains above Palm Springs. The Mountain fire, which began July 15, was 85 percent contained Tuesday morning.

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