232. The Fire in the Hills (1)

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The fire started Saturday afternoon. Fire officials didn't yet know how it started, but they suspected arson. Arsonists listen to weather reports. They get excited when they hear that the Los Angeles area is going to have Santa Ana winds, which can blow steadily at 30 mph and gust to 60 mph.

Planes dropped flame retardant around the southern edge of the fire to protect houses closest to the foothills. On the radio, a reporter said the fire had consumed 100 acres. Fire officials thought that the fire would be out within 24 hours, if the Santa Ana winds didn't start blowing.

At 10:30 Saturday evening, Adam walked downtown to see if he could get a better view of the fire. He had never seen his small town so crowded on a Saturday night. Everyone was watching the fire. He got a great view with his binoculars. Even though downtown was windless, he saw flames that looked like they must have been 50 or 60 feet high. The winds had picked up in the foothills. The red flames stood out clearly against the night sky. At 11 p.m., fire officials announced a mandatory evacuation of about 100 homes north of Carter Avenue.


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