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Most southbound lanes of I-15 reopened; 1,100-acre fire still burning

September 02, 2011|By Hector Becerra | Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Three of the four southbound lanes of Interstate 15 that were closed earlier because of a brush fire in the Cajon Pass have reopened, a Caltrans official said Friday evening.

The three lanes were opened shortly after 7 p.m., said Terri Kasinga, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. As with the northbound side, only the lane closest to the median remains closed because of fire equipment stationed there, she said.

The fire has grown to about 1,100 acres, with mandatory evacuations still in effect in some areas, officials said. The fire is 20% contained.

Two firefighters have been injured. One injury is believed to be heat-related and the other due to smoke inhalation, said Fred Pena, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

"The winds are in our favor," Pena said. "They seem to be blowing back into the fire. The rate of spread has dramatically slowed down."

About 200 firefighters, assisted by 18 aircraft, including a DC-10, were battling the blaze, said Bob Poole, also a U.S. Forest Service spokesman. One structure has been damaged by the fire, but Poole said he didn't yet know whether it was a home or an outbuilding.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for Jenny Street between Columbine and Braceo in Hesperia, and for residents west of Caliente and east of Baldy Mesa Road, south of Joshua to the top of the Cajon Pass in Oak Hills.

An evacuation center has been set up at Baldy Mesa Elementary School, 10376 Baldy Mesa Road, between Avenal Street and Bonanza Road.

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