July 28, 2008
Fire Forces L.A. Zoo Evacuations
By Sue Doyle
LOS ANGELES - Thousands of people were evacuated from the Los Angeles Zoo on Sunday when a fast-moving brush fire ignited in Griffith Park, scorching 25 acres before it was contained, authorities said.
About 200 firefighters battled the blaze for three hours before getting the upper hand on flames that shot plumes of smoke through the air that were visible for miles, said Ron Myers, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman. Investigators have not determined a cause.
Sunday's high humidity and low winds helped prevent the fire from spreading. But it could have been far worse if the weather conditions had been different, Myers said.
"Given these types of circumstances, if you change the components of winds, humidity and temperature, it could ... create some major damage," he said.
The fire forced authorities to shut down roads feeding into the park at 1:10 p.m., including Riverside and Zoo drives. The on- and off-ramps at Victory Boulevard from the 134 Freeway also were closed, said Alex Gonzalez, a California Highway Patrol officer. The roads reopened around 4:30 p.m.
Flames came within about 1,000 feet of a California condor enclosure in the park, forcing the relocation of the condors and two vultures, said zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs.
On May 8, 2007, a massive brush fire destroyed 817 acres of the 4,210- acre park. Ignited by a burning cigarette in Aberdeen Canyon during the driest year in Los Angeles history, the fire kept Griffith Park under siege as it raged for three days.
Those flames forced hundreds of Los Feliz residents to flee their homes in the largest fire to sweep across the park in 47 years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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