Weekend storms could be a mixed blessing for crews battling California’s largest wildfire.
Stronger storms that swept through the state Saturday could create an opportunity to get firefighters out quicker, and it could also add another level of danger to the fire that is burning nearly 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles, burning with high winds and temperatures that are topping 100 degrees below zero on Saturday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
California’s largest fire began Wednesday when at least three homes were destroyed and hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their communities. That area has since been re-developed as a community known as Marlene, which is home to 400 residents.
But after the fire hit the community on Saturday, the community’s residents were given a false hope that firefighters might come to rescue them.
“I just keep thinking that maybe we’ll get a helicopter, maybe we’ll get some firefighting aircraft and we’ll get them to come,” said Richard Gershman, who was on his way to a fishing tournament after visiting his mother.
But as the fire grew over the weekend, smoke from the fire was rolling into Marlene, prompting Gershman and other residents to worry about the safety of their homes.
“I just wish we would have known earlier that the air quality was going to be as bad as what it is now,” he said. “I’m just heartbroken.”
Saturday, while the Marlene blaze grew to at least 70 firetrucks, helicopters and aircraft, fire spokeswoman Colleen Easton said it was unlikely firefighters could get to the community on time because of new, powerful winds.
With strong winds and low cloud cover, they were able to get firefighters out to fight the blaze before residents were evacuated, Easton said. It’s a little bit better than expected considering the time of year.
In Marlene, the fire is burning along Highway 62, through mostly dry brush and hills, Easton said. The fire, which has burned 4,500 acres in two and a half days, was 1,200 acres Wednesday, Easton said during a press conference Friday afternoon on the town’s evacuation order.
“We want to get all