Wildfire burns nine homes, 23,500 acres north of Los Angeles

By Ryan Pearson, The Associated Press
Saturday June 08, 2002

GREEN VALLEY – Thousands of firefighters struggled Friday to contain a 23,500-acre wildfire that forced 1,500 people to evacuate rural communities north of Los Angeles and burned nine homes. 

Clouds of dark smoke blew through town as the fire crackled through thick, old brush and firefighters set controlled burns to clear out vegetation. Some 2,000 firefighters were on the lines, and 14 airplanes and six helicopters attacked the flames from the air. 

To the west in Ventura County, the state’s other huge blaze had burned 20,800 acres in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai. 

Despite a swath of blackened hills nearby, most of Green Valley was still green after an overnight onslaught of flames that forced evacuation of some northern Los Angeles County communities in the Angeles National Forest. 

“The fire gods smile proudly on this place,” said resident Darryl Haddock, 39. 

The so-called Copper Fire was accidentally ignited Wednesday by a grinding tool and became California’s most dangerous wildfire Thursday evening when it suddenly quadrupled in size. Eight homes destroyed were lost during the expansion. 

Late Friday night it was 15 percent contained. 

The Ojai fire was 25 percent contained Friday night, and other smaller fires that had been burning since last week were either contained or under control.