Two L.A.-area wildfires threaten to merge after forcing evacuations

Two rapidly growing wildfires burning a few miles apart through drought-parched foothills north-east of Los Angeles prompted the evacuation of nearly 800 homes on Tuesday, as a heat wave continued to bake much of the U.S. Southwest for a third straight day. Abnormally high temperatures climbing into the high 90s and triple digits across much of the region helped stoke wildfires from the coastal hills outside Santa Barbara to desert brush near the Mexican border, and several other Western states. Fires also were menacing populated areas in New Mexico, Arizona and along the Colorado-Wyoming border. More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the conflagration, part of which was ignited by a car crash, officials said.

We immediately had homes under threat.

Los Angeles County Deputy Chief John Tripp

The greatest immediate threat was posed by a pair of fires that erupted near each other on Monday near the Angeles National Forest and doubled in size overnight as they roared unchecked through foothills and canyons above the communities of Azusa and Duarte northeast of Los Angeles. Those fires, jointly referred to by authorities as the San Gabriel Complex, had devoured some 5,400 acres combined, according to latest estimates on Tuesday evening. About 770 homes were placed under evacuation on Tuesday, no property losses or serious injuries were reported, and fire officials said late in the day that flames appeared to be creeping mainly in the direction of uninhabited wilderness areas.