Gene Blevins  /  Reuters
A helicopter drops water on the Pinnacles Fire near Lake Arrowhead, Calif., on Tuesday.
updated 9/21/2006 8:29:01 AM ET 2006-09-21T12:29:01

Firefighters, worried about the possible return of hot, dry Santa Ana winds, fought three separate wildfires Wednesday that crept through national forests and toward towns.

No houses were immediately threatened, however. The cooler weather, lighter winds and higher humidity helped reduce the spread of flames.

A 2,500 acre fire, or 3.9 square miles, in the San Bernardino National Forest was burning northeast of the city of Lake Arrowhead, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The blaze, which caused the closure of Highway 173, was 55 percent contained.

Two firefighters were injured when a water truck overturned. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The fire was moving into an area overgrown with dry grass and brush. It would have to cross a ravine and creek then travel several miles before reaching hundreds of homes. Officials recommended voluntary evacuation of some nearby communities.

Authorities said the fire was ignited by someone, but had few other details.

Another fire was burning La Canada Flintridge, a Los Angeles area foothill community. It had burned 250 acres and prompted the closure of a portion of Angeles Crest Highway, forest spokeswoman Kathy Peterson said.

No homes were threatened, but a fire station, school and outdoor education center were closed. It was 45 percent contained. Crews hoped to fully contain it by Wednesday evening. The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

“The fire has laid down,” Peterson said. “If the weather changes, it gets hot, winds pick up, it could change in a heartbeat.”

Another wildfire in Los Padres National Forest that began on Labor Day was 35 percent contained. It had scorched 99,950 acres, or nearly 156 square miles in an area 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The town of Lockwood Valley, about seven miles from the edge of the fire, remained under voluntary evacuation.

Ramona Moloski, 68, of Lockwood Valley, said she could see smoke billowing over a hill about five miles from her home. A firefighter came to her door Wednesday afternoon and urged her to be ready to leave.

“He said, ’don’t get trapped back here,”’ Moloski said. “It’s about two miles to get out of here on a one-way road. I’m very concerned.”

More than 2,000 firefighters and 34 aircraft were fighting the blaze, with many concentrated on its active, northeastern end.

Authorities were beginning to worry about winter flooding in the huge swath of land denuded by the fire.

“People have to understand that hot fire glazes the soil, and water doesn’t penetrate it very well when it rains,” Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper said.

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