Ferocious California Fire Burns Homes; 80,000 Forced to Evacuate
August 17, 2016
The closure of Highway 138 and Interstate 15 clogged traffic and made it difficult for residents to leave.
An explosive brush fire that ripped through canyons and flatlands in the Cajon Pass in less than a day continued to ravage hillsides and reduce homes to ash and rubble Wednesday, leaving even veteran firefighters bewildered.
“It hit hard, it hit fast — it hit with an intensity that we haven’t seen before,” San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.
By Wednesday evening, the Blue Cut fire had charred 25,626 acres and was only 4% contained, according to Melody Lardner, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.
The official measurement of the fire was about 4,400 acres fewer than reported earlier in the day, a discrepancy that authorities attributed to more precise mapping of the burn area.
With winds fanning the blaze, officials were concerned it could decimate Lytle Creek, a tiny mountain community along the wildfire’s southwestern flank that was under mandatory evacuation.
Structure-protection engines are stationed in Lytle Creek and Wrightwood. More than 1,580 firefighters were attacking the inferno “with everything they can from the air and the ground,” Lardner said.
More than 80,000 people in the county’s rural communities have been forced to flee. An unknown number of homes were destroyed.
The blaze’s small containment line was centered around Old Cajon, where the fire broke out Tuesday morning.
Officials are bracing for an immense tally of devastation from a fire fed by strong winds, parched tinder and triple-digit heat.
“There will be a lot of families that will come home to nothing,” Hartwig warned.
- Blue Monster Prep