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800-brush fire burns cabins, prompts evacuations in forest near Los Angeles

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GLENDORA, California — Two wildfires racing through drought-stricken Southern California burned over three square miles of land and two cabins Friday afternoon as the region roasted under a summer heat wave.

A blaze erupted shortly after 1 p.m. in the Angeles National Forest about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles above the foothill communities of Glendora and Azusa.

A stiff breeze sent flames hopscotching and then racing along rocky ridges. In a matter of hours, the flames burned 2.8 square miles of tinder-dry brush and torched two cabins in the sparsely populated forest.

Several campgrounds containing at least 40 people were evacuated, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Vicki Gregory said.

Fire crews worked in 100-degree heat. Four firefighters were treated for minor injuries, two of them for heat exhaustion, said Andrew Mitchell, an Angeles forest spokesman.

Another fire erupted Friday afternoon in Simi Valley, just northwest of Los Angeles. It burned 150 acres of grass and brush, plowing through rolling hills near subdivisions with about 500 homes. It was 50 percent contained by nightfall.

In some places, the fire burned through empty fields of short brown grass separated by walls from the subdivisions.

PHOTO: People watch as a wildfire in the Wood Ranch area of Simi Valley, Calif., about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. No evacuations had been ordered Friday afternoon. Wildfires racing through drought-stricken Southern California have burned hundreds of acres of land and multiple cabins as the region roasted under a summer heat wave. (Joseph Garcia/Ventura County Star via AP) LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
People watch as a wildfire in the Wood Ranch area of Simi Valley, Calif., about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. No evacuations had been ordered Friday afternoon. Wildfires racing through drought-stricken Southern California have burned hundreds of acres of land and multiple cabins as the region roasted under a summer heat wave. (Joseph Garcia/Ventura County Star via AP) LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Alyson Aronson saw flames outside her home. She packed her car with photo albums, paperwork and her purse.

"It's just scary. All of a sudden I heard someone scream fire, and I was just in my house. I had no clue," she told KNBC-TV (http://bit.ly/1HMut6U ). "I didn't even smell the smoke, to be honest, and I ran outside thinking one of my neighbors started a fire or something, and then, all of a sudden I looked up and there was all of the flames on the mountain."

However, winds were light, and no evacuations were ordered.

Several other fires burned several acres in Ventura and San Diego counties. A small fire in Simi Valley erupted early Friday morning when a pickup truck plowed through a highway guardrail and plunged 200 feet into a ravine, sparking a blaze that was quickly contained. The driver was airlifted to safety.

The fires came as the region sweltered under a summer heat wave that was expected to run through Sunday, bringing a higher risk of fire danger because of the sizzling temperatures and relatively low humidity.

The temperature hit 91 in downtown Los Angeles and topped 100 degrees in the San Fernando Valley and Riverside.

Palm Springs recorded 117 degrees, breaking the record for the day of 116 set in 1962, according to the National Weather Service. Records also were broken in Santa Ana (98 degrees), Chula Vista (88) and Alpine (101).

Los Angeles and other cities kept libraries and other places open into the evening to serve as cooling centers for people without access to air conditioning.

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