Firefighters reign in Route Fire in Los Angeles


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Firefighters in Los Angeles have successfully tackled the remainder of the Route fire near Castaic on Saturday, which over the past few days charred more than 5,200 acres.

The fire, which was first reported on Wednesday afternoon along the 5 Freeway near Lake Hughes Road, grew quickly by Thursday, prompting mandatory evacuations and destroying two structures.

About 250 county firefighters were assigned to the blaze along with 115 US Forest Service firefighters, eight air tankers and seven helicopters, said L.A. County Fire Inspector Craig Little.

According to Tom Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, temperatures in the area was 111 degrees Fahrenheit (43.8 C) and the heat was severely affecting the fire crews battling the fire. After seven firefighters had to be treated for heat stroke, officials took an unusual step in pulling back some of the firefighters on the front lines. 

The order to pull back, a fire official said, was to reduce the risk to firefighters tackling the most grueling tasks as temperatures soared. Instead, crews would focus on an aerial assault.

“It’s a tactical pause for the crews that are experiencing the greatest heat impact,” Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Thomas C. Ewald said. “We’re just trying to reduce the strain being placed on line firefighters.”

It is rare for fire officials to pull back resources. Ewald said, however: “The No. 1 threat right now is to our firefighters. We want to back off the intensity a little bit.

“For our folks that are out there, they don’t have the opportunity to go into an air-conditioned environment. They’re on the line, they’re not in the shade. Their No. 1 tool is hydration and preparation.”

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