Friday to bring hot, dry forecast as 'hard to predict' Lake Fire grows in Southern California

Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY

A Southern California wildfire that has threatened more than 5,000 structures in rural Los Angeles County continued to rage Friday, with Angeles National Forest officials describing its movements as "hard to predict."

The Lake Fire, burning between Lakes Hughes and Castaic, about 65 miles north of Los Angeles, had grown to about 18 square miles and was 12% contained as of 8 a.m. PDT. The blaze has destroyed five structures and forced evacuations near Lake Hughes.

There is no known cause, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Fire crews on Thursday took advantage of the slightly lower temperatures and moisture from Tropical Storm Elida hat moved across the region. But hotter, drier conditions are forecast Friday, and near-critical fire weather conditions could develop in the afternoon with gusty onshore winds.

"The primary driver of this fire has been heavy, thick, dense and dried out vegetation and steep terrain," said Seneca Smith, a public information officer with the Angeles National Forest in a press announcement posted to the L.A. County Fire Department's Twitter account.

The fire, which broke out Wednesday afternoon, was feeding on chaparral and other brush, some of which hadn't burned since 1968, but the flames had moved into heavier forest on top of ridges, fire officials said.

“This will be a major fire for several days,” said Chief Robert Garcia with the U.S. Forest Service.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from dozens of miles away as the fire burned in steep terrain with difficult access for firefighters.

Resources were bolstered Thursday, Smith said, with over 1,000 personnel now on location.

Fires in Azusa and elsewhere

Meanwhile, there was no containment of a blaze that blackened foothills above the Los Angeles suburb of Azusa. It churned through nearly 4 square miles of brush on Thursday and was moving away from homes. Evacuation orders issued to residents were lifted early Friday.

Another blaze came dangerously close to a neighborhood in the city of Corona, east of Los Angeles, before crews controlled it. And a Northern California fire in the community of Sloughhouse, near Sacramento, burned about 500 acres before firefighters stopped its forward spread.

Contributing: Jeremy Childs, Ventura (Calif.) County Star; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lake Fire continues to burn in California; Azusa evacuations lifted