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California and the West

Crews Gain Ground on Mountain Fire

Blaze: Rain helps effort to control flames that destroyed 13 structures in San Bernardino County.

September 15, 1997|MATT LAIT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Firefighters continued to battle a blaze Sunday in the San Bernardino Mountains that has scorched more than 1,500 acres, forced about 500 evacuations, destroyed 13 structures and damaged eight others, fire officials said.

Aided by "favorable weather conditions," including rain and no wind, firefighters had contained 80% of the wildfire by Sunday evening, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Karen McKinley said.

Late Sunday, officials said they believed that the fire would be fully contained by tonight and controlled by Wednesday.

The fire broke out Saturday afternoon in the forest off California 330, about six miles south of Running Springs at a legal shooting area. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

McKinley said evacuated residents in Smiley Park, Live Oaks and Fredalba were being allowed to return late Sunday. According to authorities, eight homes were damaged and 10 homes and three sheds and outbuildings were destroyed.

Five helicopters joined 12 air tankers, 170 engines and 1,623 firefighters in trying to control the fire, said Candace Vialpando, another Forest Service spokeswoman.

California 330, the main route into the nearby Lake Arrowhead-Big Bear Lake resort areas, remained closed in both directions. California 18, which also was closed east of the Lake Arrowhead area and also at Big Bear dam because the fire, was reopened late Sunday.

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