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Fire near Big Bear burns 200 acres

The wind-driven blaze prompts the evacuation of three campgrounds.

September 15, 2007|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

A 200-acre wildfire was burning out of control Friday near Big Bear Lake in the drought- ravaged San Bernardino National Forest, forcing the evacuation of three campgrounds, fire officials said.

The wind-driven fire started about 1:20 p.m. west of Big Bear and was burning to the north, away from mountain communities, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller.

Fire officials evacuated Camp Whittle and the Big Pine Flats and Hannah Flats campgrounds as a precaution.

Winds increased from 15 mph to 27 mph later in the afternoon, grounding three air tankers and helping to send a large plume of smoke up over the mountaintop, Miller said.

Fire officials had no containment of the fire as of Friday evening, and were still investigating its cause.

"The wind is blowing, and it's created some problems," Miller said. "When you get strong winds, you get the fire spotting ahead of itself, and that makes it difficult for the aircraft. But we're anticipating that once nightfall comes, the humidity will rise and the winds will decrease."

Fire officials also were concerned about dry and hot conditions. "They're trying to get on this fire pretty quickly because fuel moisture is so low," said Pam Bierce of the U.S. Forest Service. "We are heading right into our hottest months."

Eleven engines, two helicopters, three air tankers and two hand crews were battling the flames, officials said. The fire was burning near the site where a lightning-caused blaze that began Sept. 1 burned 85 acres.

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sara.lin@latimes.com

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