Williams Fire now 15 percent contained

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AZUSA (CNS) – Firefighters today battled a wildfire that has scorched some 3,600 acres in the Angeles National Forest and was not expected to be fully surrounded until Sept. 13, but they succeeded in lengthening containment lines overnight despite steep, unforgiving terrain, authorities said.

Fire crews have been cutting containment lines since the fire broke out in San Gabriel Canyon Sunday. The blaze was listed as 15 percent contained, up  from 5 percent Monday night, said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service.

Six firefighters have suffered minor injuries. All were treated and returned to duty, Judy said.

An estimated 775 firefighters were assigned to the firefighting effort today, and 14 aircraft were available for deployment — four air tankers and 10 water-dropping helicopters, Judy said.    The so-called Williams Fire is burning in medium to heavy chaparral and mixed conifers — fuel that has not burned in 15 to 20 years — and is moving north, authorities said.

Temperatures, expected to be in the mid 90s today, have been high, and humidity has been low, officials said. High winds were not in this morning’s forecast, although they blew at about 25 miles per hour Monday night.

Firefighters planned to continue today protecting structures in the Camp Williams area, officials said. Camp Williams and the San Gabriel Canyon were ordered evacuated, but 25 people decided to stay.

The fire began about 2:15 p.m. Sunday in the Camp Williams trailer park along East Fork Road off of San Gabriel Canyon Road, also known at state Route 39, said L’Tanga Watson of the U.S. Forest Service. The cause remained under investigation.

Authorities Monday searched for three hikers reported stranded in San Gabriel Canyon, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“We sent out a search and rescue helicopter and searched the area they were reportedly in but we found nothing,” said dispatch supervisor Art Marrujo. “So we called off the search at 2:38 p.m. and recalled the helicopter.”

The hikers were reported stranded in the east fork of the San Gabriel Canyon near the Bridge to Nowhere, a popular hiking destination on East Fork Road above Azusa, according to the county fire department.

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