Castaic Lake Fire Signals Busy Fire Season

Castaic Fire June 2017. Photo by @lacofireairops.

Photo credit: @LACoFireAirOps.

by Jennifer Hubbard

Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) firefighters rushed to extinguish a major 800-acre brush fire burning from the waterline at Castaic Lake.  The brush fire began at about 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Department’s Air Operations crews were already on-duty in the area, giving a fortuitous advantage in fighting this hard-to-reach blaze in the unincorporated community of Castaic. Within 24 hours, forward progress of the “Lake Fire” was stopped, with crews working three additional days to ensure complete containment.

The Lake Fire was the Department’s largest incident so far this season, working in unified command with the United States Forest Service-Angeles National Forest, as it burned in both State and Federal Responsibility Areas. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, Castaic Lake Lifeguards and American Medical Response were all on scene to assist.

North Operations Bureau Deputy Fire Chief Vince Peña called the operation a “great unified effort”, noting the excellent coordination in set-up by Battalions 6 and 22. With the combination of helicopters, dozer teams, lifeguards and forest service all working together, Peña compared the strategic response to fighting a fire on Catalina Island.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. However, this incident demonstrated how dangerously fast fires will be burning this season. A combination of record-high temperatures and an abundance of fuels such as grass, now dried-out after an unusually wet winter rainfall, are a recipe for a very busy 2017 fire season.