'Fork Fire' sends up huge plume above Azusa, canyon evacuated

Los Angeles County firefighters report they are assisting the U.S. Forest Service crews battling a 60-acre brush fire in the East Fork of San Gabriel Canyon, above Azusa with zero percent containment.

Campers and people using the popular swimming holes in San Gabriel Canyon were being evacuated on an emergency basis on Sunday, as a brush fire broke out in East Fork.

A giant aerial tanker from Sacramento was being flown to assist the Angeles National Forest and Los Angeles County firefighters battle the Fork Fire, which was first reported at midday about 30 miles east of Los Angeles.

Park visitors north of the fire were stuck, their only normal exit from the park cut off to the south, said USFS spokesman Nathan Judy. They were escorted out via a closed section of Route 39 to the Angeles Crest Highway, across a treacherous roadway subject to rockfalls that is usually closed to the public.

The fire quickly grew to more than 60 acres by mid-afternoon, USFS officials said.

Los Angeles County was rushing camp crews and other brush teams to the canyon, a heavily-wooded area near where several other large wildfires have broken out in years past.

Sunday's fire was reported to be burning towards the north, into the rugged central area of the San Gabriel Mountains. It put up a large plume of smoke, visible from as far away as Chino and inland Orange County.

Tanker 911, a jumbo DC-10 jet converted to fire tanker purposes, was being flown to Southern California from its base near Sacramento.