By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SANTA CLARITA -- As firefighters took on a stubborn 3-day-old wildfire Friday in rough terrain north of Los Angeles, a second and more serious blaze broke out 30 miles away near Interstate 5, quickly surging to more than 500 acres, briefly threatening an elementary school and leading to the precautionary evacuation of nearly 20 homes.
The new fire was burning very close to I-5 during some of the busiest hours of the week for the heavily traveled route in and out of Los Angeles--and Bakersfield. The freeway has seen wildfire activity in its surrounding hills all week. One southbound lane was closed because of the firefight.
Crews were helped by relatively mild temperatures, but unpredictable winds and very difficult terrain made progress slow.
With air and ground attacks, firefighters were able to douse the flames closest to Northlake Hills Elementary School and stop a looming threat.
The school had a large defensible space around it, so it was easy to protect, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Miller said.
The campus was put on lockdown and buses were put on standby for a time in case hundreds of kindergarten through fifth-grade students needed to be evacuated.
After the flames were redirected, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Allen said the students were released to their parents without incident.
Although the fire was still some distance from the homes on Elk Ridge Road and Vista Point Place, Miller said residents of 19 houses were asked to leave as a precaution.
The fire was moving toward Castaic Lake.
The earlier fire that broke out Wednesday near Frazier Park was 35 percent contained Friday after consuming more than 4,000 acres.
That blaze was not threatening any homes or buildings but fire officials said containing it would be a long, difficult task because it was burning in such rugged and hard-to-reach terrain.