Escondido Canyon brush fire causes confusion, delays for commuters

A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene.
FILE PHOTO A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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An Acton brush fire was contained quickly by first responders on Friday, but the incident resulted in wrong-way driving and confusion for commuters.  

Dubbed the #CarIC, the fire was first reported to the Los Angeles County Fire Department on the northbound side of Highway 14, just north of Escondido Canyon Road at 10:45 a.m.  

“It started as a fully involved motorhome that moved to the brush,” said Jonathan Matheny, a spokesman for the Fire Department, at approximately 11 a.m. “It’s currently being held at 50-by-50 and it is contained.” 

Matheny said on-the-scene units informed dispatch that they were confident they could handle both the brush fire and vehicle fire — the motorhome was towing a vehicle that had become fully involved as well — and that all additional units, except for one helicopter, had been canceled.  

“The earlier report was that it got contained and the issue was needing water from other engines,” said Matheny.  

In the event of fires alongside roadways such as Highway 14, first responders do not have access to ground-line water sources, such as hydrants. Water, therefore, is often shuttled between support vehicles to the primary one whose crew is battling the fire, Matheny said. 

Some other areas, such as along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Matheny said, have hydrants spaced apart along the roadway, giving engines more independence in battling the fires often caused by vehicles igniting on the shoulders of roads and freeways.  

As a result of the fully involved vehicles and responding firefighters, a SigAlert was issued by the California Highway Patrol at 11:04 a.m., shutting down the No. 1 and 2 lanes. Law enforcement officials were requested at the scene due to a number of vehicles, who were trying to get around the closures, heading the wrong way on the on-ramp.  

At 11:15 a.m., officials at the Angeles National Forest announced that the #CarIC was no longer a threat and the drivers had been successfully turned around before any new incident occurred.  

The SigAlert remained in effect as of the publication of this story.  

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