Air Quality Advisory Issued for Parts of Southland

Crown Fire scorches more than 13,000 acres

A smoke advisory alert was issued for parts of Southern California on Friday as huge wildfire in the high desert continues to burn.

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South Coast Air Quality Management District urged all individuals exposed to smoke-impacted areas to "exercise caution and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in any area directly impacted by smoke."

Smoke from the Crown fire near Palmdale in the Angeles National Forest will possibly affect air quality in portions of Antelope Valley (Area 14), San Gabriel Mountains (Area 15), and portions of Southern Kern County. Air quality may reach Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, or higher, levels in areas directly impacted by smoke, due to fine particulates. Smoke may affect air quality in additional areas as it settles into the nearby valleys overnight and in the morning.

As of Friday, the fire was 20 percent contained. The blaze spread rapidly after breaking out at midafternoon Thursday, triggering overnight evacuations of about 2,000 homes in rural areas and down to the western side of Palmdale.

As of Friday afternoon, all evacuations have been lifted, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department's website.

The blaze has burned more than 13,000 acres since erupting Thursday afternoon.


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Wildfire Jumps Aqueduct, Approaches Homes

The wildfire jumped an aqueduct on Friday, rushing toward a subdivision of homes as firefighters also tried to keep flames from damaging power lines that bring electricity to Southern California.

Winds apparently carried embers across the wide concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences at the edge of Palmdale.

Helicopters dipped buckets into the aqueduct to make rapid water drops. No homes appear to have been damaged. Numerous fire engines were in the area.

Aircraft bombarded flames on ridges above the Antelope Valley on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, while 750 firefighters working in high heat sought to outflank the blaze no matter which way it moved.

"We want to pinch it off and call it done," Los Angeles County fire Capt. Andrew Olvera said.

One house and three mobile home residences have been destroyed, another house had roof damage and various other outbuildings and garages were lost in the horse country region, authorities said.

The concrete channel of the California Aqueduct, which runs along the south edge of the Mojave Desert, had helped to contain the blaze.

There was no official word on how the fire began.   Late Friday there were broadcast reports an accidental spark from a person changing a tire may have ignited the Crown Fire.  

Southern California Edison said the fire threatened five high-voltage transmission lines, but the California grid operator had put additional generation resources online and customers were not expected to be affected if the utility lost those lines.

Only 21 SCE customers in the fire area were without power.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power asked its customers to reduce electrical usage until the threat eased, but added that it had begun local generation and its system was functioning normally.

A DC-10 jumbo jet tanker that can carry 12,000-gallon loads dropped retardant, leaving orange slashes across ridges. Four other air tankers and nine helicopters also attacked the flames.

The fire broke out near a state highway that snakes through the San Gabriel Mountains, connecting Los Angeles to the high desert. Fire investigators were focusing on some workers who were trying to remove a tire rim by hammering on bolts.

The National Weather Service reported an early afternoon high of 95 degrees in Palmdale and variable winds at 5 mph. Winds were predicted to reach 25 mph later, with gusts to 40 mph on the valley floor.

Southern California's big wildfires are usually associated with the fierce Santa Ana winds that blow withering dry air from the interior toward the coast. Winds this week have been blowing inland from out of the southwest as California experiences an unusually cool July with persistent coastal clouds.

Elsewhere, good weather in neighboring Kern County helped firefighters build containment lines around two wildfires that destroyed homes in remote mountain communities earlier in the week.

To the north, a fire that destroyed eight residences and a few outbuildings as it spread across about 26 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada was 55 percent contained, authorities said.

View Crown IC (Agua Dulce) in a larger map

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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