Arson suspect arrested in wildfire burning in hills of western Los Angeles

May 17, 2021 3:05 AM EDT

A helicopter tries to put out a brush fire in Pacific Palisades, California, U.S. May 16, 2021, in this still image obtained from social media. Mandatory credit MEGAN HERZLINGER/via REUTERS

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(Reuters) -Authorities arrested an arson suspect in a Los Angeles fire that forced evacuation orders for 1,000 people as 540 firefighters worked to contain the blaze in city's western hills, officials said on Monday.

Helicopters dropped water on the fire while firefighters on the ground worked the steep hills where at least 1,325 acres (536 hectares) had burned near the Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon areas, officials said.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for an area near Topanga Canyon with other residents on standby to leave.

Topanga Canyon is a remote, wooded community with some ranch homes about 20 miles (30 km) west of downtown Los Angeles, near the border with Malibu.

The fire was expected to continue burning for a few more days.

"This is very challenging terrain. It's been 75 years since we've had a fire there. Some of the brush is 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) high," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told a news briefing.

A suspect was detained following an investigation by the Los Angeles fire and police departments, but no further details about the man were being released because the investigation was continuing, Garcetti said.

One person was questioned and released before a second was arrested on suspicion of starting the fire intentionally, Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas told the briefing.

"We feel we have the right person," Terrazas said. The suspect was being treated for minor smoke inhalation and one firefighter suffered a minor eye injury, he said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California, and Kanishka Singh in BengaluruEditing by Robert Birsel and Lincoln Feast.)

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