21 Aug 2014
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Update: Williams Fire Firefighters Head Into More Treacherous Terrain

With 72 percent of the fire contained, officials say the most dangerous work is to come.

Update: Williams Fire Firefighters Head Into More Treacherous Terrain

Update: The U.S. Forest Service said the Williams Fire in the Angeles National Forest was 72 percent contained as of Friday morning.

Previous: The Angeles National Forest is unforgiving terrain for firefighters during fire season, but after four days of battling a raging wildfire in scorching heat and dry, steep mountainsides, firefighters have the Williams Fire 69 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon.

But it’s the next 31 percent of the work that has fire officials a bit concerned.

“The rest of the work is on the steepest piece of ground,” said U.S. Forest Service Deputy Incident Commander Mark Nunez.

Much of the work has been done by the DC-10, air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, as well as ground work by as many as 1,000 firefighters.

Because of the steep terrain and distance from the nearest roads, crews have to hike in and have their equipment and supplies flow in to the fire point, said Nunez.

Nunez said firefighters will camp two to three days in the canyon because of the isolated location.  

When the in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, the summer heat, mountainous terrain and dry brush that hadn’t been burned in nearly 20 years initially hindered firefighters’ efforts.

Nine firefighters have suffered injuries including heat-related illnesses and ankle and shoulder injuries.

But , efforts have improved significantly, aided byn. Burned acreage stayed at . Nunez said officials expected warmer weather heading into the weekend, with more tropical weather to come on Sunday and Monday. Officials are still shooting for 100 percent containment of the fire by Sept. 13.

About 50 of the were . Captain Don Slawson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s said the residents can come and go through the canyon, but are barred from bringing visitors into the forest.

On Saturday at 9 a.m., campers who had to abandon their belongings during the evacuation will be escorted into the canyon to retrieve their items. Campers with a picture I.D. can meet Sheriffs deputies at 100 N. Old San Gabriel Canyon Road for the deputy escort.

Authorities said it is unknown when the forest will be reopened to the public.The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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