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SMALL BLAZE SHUTS INTERSTATE 5 LANES.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Brushy terrain adjacent to local freeways erupted into flames for the third consecutive day Wednesday, closing two lanes of the Golden State Freeway near Smokey Bear Road for more than two hours.

Firefighters headed to the blaze about 1:45 p.m., and the California Highway Patrol closed the two right lanes about an hour later.

By late afternoon, the new fire had burned a total of 12 acres, but was under control, said Inspector Edward Osorio of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

``They've been able to hold it there. We're lucky because there's been very little to no wind in that area,'' Osorio said.

Conditions were less agreeable Monday as firefighters battled a blaze along the Antelope Valley Freeway that burned more than 300 acres and damaged six homes, one severely.

Capt. Brian Jordan said a cigarette tossed from a car window ignited that fire, forcing a five-hour freeway closure. Whether the fire was deliberately set is under investigation, he said.

As residents and investigators on Tuesday inspected the damage from the previous day's blaze, firefighters were again summoned about 4 p.m. after embers from a car fire on the northbound I-5 near Calgrove Boulevard ignited brush. While 10- to 20-mph winds and 100-degree temperatures fed the flames, residents of 20 homes near Lasalle Canyon Drive were asked to evacuate.

The spate of fires in the Santa Clarita Valley has required the services of hundreds of firefighters and water-dropping aircraft in recent months, but officials said the department is ready for more blazes.

``We've been on heightened alert ever since the fire season started back in April, when we discovered we didn't get enough rain,'' Osorio said. ``Right now there's nothing to lead us to believe there's an arsonist.

``Any time summer comes around we know that we have to be ready,'' he said. ``Especially in Southern California.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 11, 2002
Words:318
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