Two Los Angeles County firefighters were killed Sunday when their vehicle rolled down a mountain side amid the intense flames of a wildfire that threatened 12,000 homes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged those in the fire's path to get out as the blazes rained ash on cars as far away as downtown Los Angeles, spreading in all directions in dry conditions.
Firefighters fixed their attention on the blaze's fast-moving eastern side where flames lapped at the foot of a vital communications and astronomy center of Mount Wilson , and on the northwestern front, where the two firefighters were killed on Mount Gleason near the city of Acton.
"We ask for your understanding, for your patience as we move through this difficult time, and please, prayers for the families of our two brothers that we lost," county Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said through tears at a Sunday night press conference, The Associated Press reports.
The two firefighters were killed when they drove off the side of a treacherous road in the Mt. Gleason area, south of Acton, around 2:30 p.m., said Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant. They were later identified as Arnaldo Quinones, 35, of Palmdale and Tedmund Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County.
The fire was 5% contained, officials said, and at least temporarily eased off the foothill communities from La Cañada Flintridge to Altadena. More than 2,800 fire personnel from around the state have converged to battle the Station fire, along with 12 helicopters and eight air tankers.
Meteorologists predicted hot, dry conditions would continue without relent until at least Tuesday, according to The Los Angeles Times.
In Mariposa County, an almost 7-square-mile fire burned in Yosemite National Park. The blaze was 50 percent contained Sunday, said park spokeswoman Vickie Mates. Two people sustained minor injuries, she said.
Park officials closed a campground and a portion of Highway 120, anticipating that the fire would spread north toward Tioga Pass, the highest elevation route through the Sierra.
About 50 homes in the towns of El Portal and Foresta were under evacuation orders, and roads in the area will remain closed through today, Mates said, informs San Francisco Chronicle.