Rowher Fire at 60% containment, 625 acres

A water dropping helicopter makes a drop on a brush fire near Rowher Flats in Agua Dulce on Wednesday, July 01, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

The fast-spreading Rowher Fire in Agua Dulce reached about 625 acres overnight, with approximately 60% containment as of Thursday afternoon. 

On Thursday morning, the fire was mapped by aircraft, while more than 400 personnel, a majority from the Angeles National Forest, continued to battle the fire from the ground, ANF Fire Chief Robert Garcia said.

Los Angeles County Fire Department and ANF personnel first responded to reports of a brush fire at 2:41 p.m. Wednesday on the 11110 block of West Mint Canyon Road in Agua Dulce, according to Franklin Lopez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

By 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the 4- to 5-acre fire had grown to 150-200 acres at a moderate rate of speed with gusty wind conditions, according to John Clearwater, spokesman for the Angeles National Forest. 

The fire was being handled by ANF fire teams, with the L.A. County Fire Department, along with a number of helicopters and air tankers, assisting.

A DC-10 tanker drops fire retardant on a brush fire near Rowher Flats Off-Highway Vehicle Area in Agua Dulce on Wednesday, July 01, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Those crews worked through the night to continue building containment and gave relief crews a really good starting point this morning,” Garcia said. “A marine layer that pushed through the fire also brought that relative humidity up and gave us some relief this morning.”

Ground crews were again joined by air resources Thursday morning to assist with mop-up efforts.

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 400 firefighters were on the scene, having good success in reducing the fire’s spread, with no structures threatened, ANF officials said in a social media post. 

Rowher Flats Off-Highway Motor Vehicle area is set to be closed over the holiday weekend due to fire danger and ongoing efforts to contain the fire. 

“We expect as today’s shift winds down, we will be seeing containment reports increase in the next couple hours,” Garcia said at 4:45 p.m.

Los Angeles County firefighters stage in the Le Chene Restaurant parking lot as fixed wing aircraft and water dropping helicopters fight a brush fire in a remote area near Rowher Flats in Agua Dulce on Wednesday, July 01, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

ANF officials have said that fire danger levels in the area have been raised to “very high,” as temperatures continue rising and relative humidity drops, further drying out brush. 

“We’ve obviously seen a significant increase in firework use, and we just wanted to remind the public that fireworks of any kind are prohibited on public lands,” Garcia said. “With the additional closures we’re seeing, we’re anticipating some heavy use in the coming days (in the ANF).” 

Fire patrols are expected to strictly enforce the “no fireworks” policy as the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, and violations can result in a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.

In addition, overcrowding in popular areas makes it difficult for emergency personnel to access these areas for injuries, accidents or fires, Garcia added.

“The narrow canyon roads make it very difficult for our emergency response,” Garcia said. “We’re not discouraging folks from coming and enjoying the forest, we just suggest they have a Plan A and Plan B, so if a popular spot is full, they have another spot to go to enjoy.” 

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