PALMDALE, Calif. — A huge wildfire in the high desert wilderness north of Los Angeles jumped an aqueduct on Friday, rushing toward hundreds of houses as firefighters also tried to keep flames from damaging power lines that bring electricity to Southern California.
Some 2,000 structures were threatened and 300 homes were evacuated, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.
Winds apparently carried embers across the wide concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences at the edge of Palmdale. Plumes of smoke streamed across the city of 139,000 as a predicted afternoon increase in winds arrived.
Helicopters dipped buckets into the aqueduct to make rapid water drops. No homes immediately appeared to have been damaged. Numerous fire engines were in the area. A giant Boeing 747 supertanker arrived over Palmdale to join the battle.
"As you see, we are deploying everything that we've got," Schwarzenegger said at the fire command post.
Sustained winds of 10 mph to 20 mph were reported, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Matt Levesque.
Most of the homes in the area are of recent construction with fire resistant roofs, stucco walls, boxed eaves and landscaped with fire-resistant vegetation, Levesque said. No evacuations were ordered but were recommended.
Temperatures neared 100 degrees with single-digit relative humidity and the National Weather Service predicted gusts in the area up to 50 mph Friday night.
The fire has burned more than 20 square miles since erupting Thursday afternoon and was 20 percent contained, Schwarzenegger said.