YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Region

Dozens of Residents Flee Fire

Safety: San Bernardino County blaze burns 7,000 acres and threatens homes near Hesperia. Its cause is under investigation.


High temperatures and winds Tuesday continued to stoke a fire in San Bernardino County that has burned 7,000 acres and forced dozens to flee from their homes.

As smoke billowed up and firetrucks flanked her house, Rebecca Lewis of Summit Valley packed handfuls of clothes, photo albums and her computer and prepared to hit the road.

"You see all that brush," she said, pointing to a hill covered in dried-out bushes and spiny trees. "Some of that hasn't burned in 30 years. I think I'm just starting to hit panic mode."

About 6 a.m. Tuesday, Lewis, 52, had climbed aboard the family's bulldozer and cleared vegetation to create a protective swath around her home.

But by afternoon, she and her neighbors in Summit Valley, south of Hesperia, were given voluntary evacuation orders as the Blue Cut fire pushed toward their homes. Code enforcement officers urged them to leave immediately, warning that there might not be time to issue a mandatory evacuation order.

"If I were you, I'd go right now," Ronnie Andrews from code enforcement told Lewis.

The blaze, which began burning near Interstate 15 and the Cajon Pass on Sunday afternoon and twice forced the closure of that highway, was only 25% contained Tuesday evening, and California 138 was closed east of I-15.

On Monday, officials evacuated residents from the unincorporated area of Oak Hills, south of Hesperia, and temporarily closed I-15 after flames jumped the freeway. Residents were allowed to return home late Monday evening, and the freeway was reopened. But Tuesday, as the fire spread, residents in Summit Valley were asked to leave and officials prepared evacuation centers to accept livestock. No homes had burned and no injuries were reported Tuesday.

Officials said they don't know when they will have the fire contained. Its cause is still under investigation. More than 1,100 firefighters battled the blaze, aided by nine air tankers and eight helicopters. The cost of fighting the fire has been estimated at $1.13 million.

To the west, firefighters in Los Angeles and Kern counties were tackling a blaze near Gorman that knocked two of the state's major power transmission lines out of service. Fanned by winds of up to 25 mph, the fire had scorched more than 1,000 acres in about four hours since it was first reported at 2:30 p.m. near the Golden State Freeway and Lancaster Road.

Los Angeles Times Articles