Bloomberg News

Southern California Fire Disrupts Traffic, Threatens Homes

September 03, 2011

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- A forest fire in Southern California disrupted traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas ahead of the Labor Day weekend, threatened homes and triggered the shutdown of a power transmission line owned by Edison International.

The Hill Fire started around midday and grew to about 800 acres burning in the San Bernardino National Forest, said Stanton Florea, a spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service, in a telephone interview yesterday. About 100 homes in the Oak Hills area near Wrightwood were subject to mandatory evacuations, and one was heavily damaged.

The fire prompted the closure yesterday of all southbound lanes of Interstate 15 around Highway 395, according to the InciWeb incident joint command website. All lanes were reopened late yesterday, according to the California Department of Transportation’s website.

“That’s a corridor for, obviously, the freeway, it’s a rail corridor and there are power lines and other infrastructure,” Florea said.

Firefighters and equipment were positioned to protect the homes, Florea said. He said the high-desert terrain limits fuel available to the fire because there are open patches without vegetation.

One of two 500-kilovolt lines that carry electricity to Southern California was shut down temporarily, triggered by rising heat in the surrounding air, said Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison. He said the energy was rerouted and customers weren’t affected.

“The transmission lines are designed to shut themselves down when a wildfire burns from underneath them,” Alexander said yesterday in a telephone interview.

There was no damage and Edison expected to restart the down line without incident yesterday evening, Alexander said.

“The fire has almost cleared that area,” he said. “As soon as the fire moves a little further on we’ll do some testing.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Florea said.

--With assistance from Jeran Wittenstein in San Francisco. Editors: Anthony Palazzo, Sylvia Wier

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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