Deadly Los Angeles Wildfire Creeps Deeper Into Forest

The ferocious wildfire burning north of Los Angeles has turned into a creeping giant, steadily chewing through thick and dry chaparral on its eastern flank. While crews report good progress, the blaze that claimed the lives of two firefighters was far from being fully contained.

Investigators, meanwhile, were working to find the arsonist responsible for the huge wildfire that has burned through 241 square miles, or 154,655 acres, of the Angeles National Forest. It was 42 percent contained Friday. More than 76 homes and dozens of other structures have been destroyed.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger offered a $100,000 reward Friday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit, The Associated Press reports.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department issued an advisory to residents on Friday warning them to "avoid wild animals that may have been displaced by the fires" and urging people not to feed them.

Animal control agencies say more residents are calling to report distressed or nuisance wildlife, and they expect those calls to increase as critters frightened into hiding from the fire begin to forage again for food and water.

"The wildlife will start coming down closer to urban areas outside of places you would normally expect them," said Ricky Whitman, spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society, Reuters informs.

As authorities investigate suspected arson as the cause of the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history, prosecutors will be focused on one issue in their attempt to bring murder charges: intent.

If the Station fire was set on purpose, the arsonist could face the death penalty for the deaths of firefighters Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones. The two died Sunday in a vehicle accident while aiding a group of inmates battling the fire, which has destroyed more than 154,000 acres and 76 homes.

The suspect, if convicted and sent to death row, would follow Raymond Lee Oyler, the Beaumont mechanic sentenced to die in June for setting the 2006 Esperanza blaze that killed five firefighters, Los Angeles Times reports.