As the massive Powerhouse fire continued to burn through mountain terrain, part of the blaze leaped out of the mountains Sunday afternoon and raced across drought-parched high desert plains on the western edge of Lancaster.
In less than an hour, the fire had pushed north several miles across the desert. Jackrabbits could be seen trying to outpace the flames.
The flatlands quickly became a key battleground for fire crews trying to contain the unpredictable and wind-whipped brush fire. Firefighters were trying to take advantage of the low terrain to get a handle on the flames, but the winds was blowing erratically and the flames were moving quickly.
Dozens of bulldozers, fire engines and strike teams gave chase as the flames tore across knee-high sage and grass north of the mountains where the fire began. Helicopters swooped low over the sparsely populated flatlands, bombing hot spots with water.
“The fire came up over the ridgelines out of Lake Hughes and then hit the sage, spawning flames that aren’t all that high but move much faster than they do in the mountains,” said Jesse Knox, division supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service.