A brush fire that broke out Sunday near downtown Los Angeles threatened a densely populated, hilly neighborhood along a freeway as sizzling temperatures elevated fire danger across the West. Crews knocked down the blaze in the Silver Lake neighborhood after it damaged two homes, destroyed three shed-like structures, scorched yards and sent trees up in flames.

Neighbors scrambled with garden hoses and buckets, while water-dropping helicopters and scores of firefighters chased embers and doused steep hillsides to keep the flames from spreading. The blaze only charred 8 acres, but it put urban residents on alert to the hot, dry conditions that have helped wildfires spread rapidly across more remote places from the California coast to New Mexico. READ MORE