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Heat wave fuels wildfires in Los Angeles County

Heat wave fuels wildfires in Los Angeles County
The Ranch2 Fire was about 2,500 acres and 3% contained Saturday morning. Photo courtesy of the Angeles National Forest

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Los Angeles-area officials lifted some evacuation orders Saturday as firefighters battled a 17,000-acre blaze amid what could be a record-breaking heat wave in Southern California, officials said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze, which started Wednesday, was 17,482 acres and was 12% contained as of late Friday.

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The fire was situated near Lake Hughes, an unincorporated community in Los Angeles County near Angeles National Forest. It expanded toward the community of Pine Canyon in the Antelope Valley.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued mandatory evacuation orders for Lake Hughes and surrounding communities, but lifted some of those orders late Friday.

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The wildfire has destroyed at least 21 structures.

Officials with the Angeles National Forest said extreme heat in the region has increased fire activity, and poor air quality is expected to affect firefighters and other first responders.

"Strong high pressure will continue. Isolated thunderstorms are possible increasing risk of dry lightning and strong downdrafts. Poor overnight humidity recoveries are likely to continue for the next several nights," Cal Fire said.

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The National Weather Service said extreme heat will continue in the region through next week. The heat wave could be worse than a deadly heat wave in July 20065.

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Also in Los Angeles County, the Ranch2 Fire grew to 2,500 acres Saturday with 3% containment. The blaze erupted Thursday near the Mount Cove community. Evacuation orders for the community have been lifted.

Officials said fire activity was expected to increase Saturday in response to the day's forecast.

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