Wildfire erupts near Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor amusement park, sets off mass evacuation

Firefighters battled the 40-acre blaze in hot, dry and windy conditions during the first day of a heat wave baking the region in nearly 100-degree (37.8-Celsius) heat


                            Wildfire erupts near Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hurricane Harbor amusement park, sets off mass evacuation

A brush fire that erupted close to a large amusement and water park in Southern California on Sunday, June 9, sent hundreds of park visitors fleeing to the exit in order to escape the clouds of smoke and ash. This happened before fire officials, who arrived at the scene, asked guests to stay inside the park while they worked quickly to prevent the spread of the fast-moving fire.

 

The New York Post reported that officials with Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor announced the evacuation order a little after noon, after citing concern for the safety of visitors and employees inside the park. Thirty minutes after the announcement, the park said on it's Twitter page that fire officials had asked guests to stay put because of road closures nearby.

Park visitors were asked to move to the back of the 260-acre property, away from firefighting activity near the entrance, said Rachel Gallat, who was visiting a friend who works at the park. "I was getting iced coffee and when I walked outside, ash was raining down on me," Gallat said. "There was a big cloud of smoke. I saw people around me panicking; they didn't know where they were supposed to go."

In this photo provided by Arthur Wilkie, people evacuate Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor, Sunday, June 9, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif., north of Los Angeles, as smoke from a fast-moving brush fire surrounding the area (Source: Arthur Wilkie via AP)

A Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher told the Los Angeles Times that the park voluntarily evacuated visitors. "We did not tell them to do this," Melanie Flores said. Los Angeles County fire officials said nine people were taken to the hospital due to smoke exposure. The blaze is 20 per cent contained.

Shalane Gonzales, 34, said she saw people running out of the park in bathing suits. "It was pretty scary. We saw trucks packing people," Gonzales said. "They were just telling people to load up on their truck beds." She said when she tried to drive to the entrance to pick up her partner and their two young sons, police told her to return to the parking lot. "The fire was feet away from where we were," she said.

In this Sunday, June 9, 2019, photo provided by Joel Cannon, heavy smoke from a fast-moving brush fire surrounds Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (Source: Joel Cannon via AP)

The park later announced it was closed for the day after police reopened the roads, allowing everyone to leave in their cars.

Magic Mountain is located about 40 miles north of Los Angeles; its twisting roller coasters are a familiar sight to motorists on Interstate 5. Firefighters battled the 40-acre blaze in hot, dry and windy conditions during the first day of a heat wave baking the region in nearly 100-degree (37.8-Celsius) heat. The National Weather Service said temperatures reached 96 degrees (35.6 Celsius) at Magic Mountain, with humidity dipping to 10% and winds gusting to 25 mph (40 kph).

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

With AP inputs

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