Wildfire Danger Level Raised in Angeles National Forest from High to Very High

About 1,000 firefighters are battling a brush fire in the foothills above the San Gabriel Valley northeast of downtown Los Angeles. 

Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Lugo says the fire started shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, quickly consuming at least 250 acres and sending a huge plume of smoke into the air.

Lugo says helicopters and air tankers fought the fire until dusk in the mountains above the Los Angeles suburb of Azusa, The Associated Press reports.

A total of 600 personnel are working to extinguish the blaze, and have it contained 10 percent so far.

Angeles National Forest covers more than 650,000 acres that have elevations ranging between 1,200 to 10,064 feet. Officials had raised the fire danger level in the forest from high to very high in July, citing the continued drying out of vegetation and the 79 wildfires in and around the forest in the previous two months, AHN reports.

The Morris fire, which began Tuesday afternoon near the Morris Dam north of Azusa, was 10% contained this morning, said Bryan Webb, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. It forced the evacuation of campers and an 18-member Boy Scout troop, which was rescued by a helicopter crew.

The blaze is in steep terrain and burning mostly brush and chaparral. The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for mountain areas in Los Angeles County, and the county Fire Department is beefing up hillside-area fire units. Weather officials expect temperatures to reach into the triple digits in the valleys today, Los Angeles Times informs.

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