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Fire now 22% contained

Blaze heads east, away from the foothills. Crews setting controlled burns in parts of Glendale.

September 02, 2009|By Zain Shauk and Veronica Rocha

LA CRESCENTA — The raging Station fire that earlier this week had threatened to bear down on a wide swath of foothill homes changed direction Tuesday away from La Crescenta as firefighters achieved 22% containment of the 127,000-acre blaze.

As of Tuesday evening, mandatory evacuation orders for La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge had been lifted, but remained in place for portions of Glendale where firefighters carried out controlled burns to create brush-less buffers.

With temperatures beginning to drop, and humidity on the rise, the fire began moving east Tuesday into wilderness, said fire information officer Esmeralda Brocamonte of the U.S. Forest Service.

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Earlier in the morning, fire officials had reported just 5% containment for the Station fire, which had consumed about 20% of the 650,000-acre Angeles National Forest.

But amid more favorable weather conditions, firefighters made significant progress, even as the fire continued to rack up its toll, burning 62 structures as of Tuesday morning, according to the forest service.

Still, it continued to tear through the wilderness and got closer to Mt. Wilson, home to an array of broadcast equipment and an observatory.

Steep terrain, extremely dry brush, anticipated triple-digit heat and winds of up to 30 mph will likely continue to fuel the blaze, which officials don’t anticipate containing until Tuesday, the Forest Service said.

The National Weather Service indicated a chance of thunderstorms in the area, increasing the fire danger.

Firefighters started controlled burns Monday in an attempt to fortify a buffer between foothill communities and the fire, holding at least one mile of separation between homes and the blaze, authorities said.

The strategic burns were conducted along Santa Carlotta Street in La Crescenta, Incident Commander Mike Dietrich said.

A Boeing 747 plane had dropped at least 20,000 gallons of flame retardant on the Santa Carlotta ridge as of Tuesday, and was to perform additional drops throughout the fire line, he said.

Strategic burns continued through Tuesday in Deukmejian Wilderness Park and other hillside areas, city spokeswoman Vicki Gardner said. Many residents wore masks and gathered along Santa Carlotta Street to photograph the action.

Mandatory evacuations for Glendale were in effect overnight Tuesday for Skyridge Drive north of Markridge, Britney Lane, Arnell Place, Skyview Lane and Boston Avenue north of Markridge, Gardner said.

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