One firefighter suffered a minor injury and campers and visitors using the popular swimming holes in San Gabriel Canyon were evacuated Sunday, as a brush fire broke out in East Fork above Azusa, according to authorities.
A giant aerial tanker from Sacramento was flown in to assist the Angeles National Forest and Los Angeles County firefighters battle the Fork Fire, which was first reported around noon, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles.
Park visitors north of the fire were stuck, their only normal exit from the park cut off to the south, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy. They were escorted out via a closed section of Route 39 to the Angeles Crest Highway, across a treacherous roadway subject to rockfalls usually closed to the public.
The fire grew to more than 60 acres by mid-afternoon, Judy said.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury when he was hit in the leg by a falling rock, Judy said. The firefighter was transported to a hospital for treatment.
Los Angeles County was rushing camp crews and other brush teams to the canyon, a heavily-wooded area near where several other large wildfires have broken out in years past.
The fire shut down Highway 39 in San Gabriel Canyon about two miles north of Sierra Madre Boulevard, Judy continued. Visitors and campers in that area were being moved north of Highway 39 and taken out by way of Highway 2, he said
No structures were being threatened, Judy said.
There was still zero containment as of Sunday evening.
Judy estimated there were between 150 and 200 firefighters from the forest service and Los Angeles County Fire Department battling the brush fire, along with water-dropping helicopters.
One USFS helicopter will be making night water drops on hot spots, he said.
County fire sent one water-dropping helicopter, a bulldozer and about 30 personnel to assist USFS personnel fighting the blaze, a dispatcher said.
Sunday's fire was reported to be burning towards the north, into the rugged central area of the San Gabriel Mountains. It put up a large plume of smoke, visible from as far away as Chino and inland Orange County.
Tanker 911, a jumbo DC-10 jet converted to fire tanker purposes, was flown to Southern California from its base near Sacramento to assist in the battle, Judy said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.