Forest / Wild Fire in USA on August 17 2016 03:20 AM (UTC).
More than 82,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday night as a fast-moving fire near San Bernardino, Calif., roared across 9,000 acres. The fire, which showed explosive growth in just a few hours, was 0% contained, Cal Fire's Daniel Berlant tweeted. "There is imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures in the Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, and surrounding areas. Please follow the evacuation instructions, as this is a very quickly growing wildfire," the U.S. Forest Service's incident system warned. It said an estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 people were being affected by the evacuation warnings. The Blue Cut Fire also prompted the closure of I-15 freeway over Cajon Pass, and local media reported that firefighters had to abandon two engines as the fire overcame their positions. Authorities said two firefighters suffered minor injuries, and 700 personnel were deployed. The entire mountain town of Wrightwood, with about 4,500 people, was ordered to evacuate as the blaze grew more fierce. Images posted to social media showed the column of smoke and flames towering over the pass, and dozens of vehicles stuck at the road closure. At least one structure was destroyed by the flames fanned by winds and high heat. Forecasters earlier in the day warned of "Red Flag" fire danger in the area that could lead to extreme fire behavior. The fire is largely burning on the east side of the pass, said San Bernardino Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford, who represents the area. "There's smoke of every color imaginable," she said by phone from her San Bernardino office about 20 miles from the fire. "We can't see the flames because it's on the other side of the pass." Fifteen seconds later, flames began cresting the ridge. "Now I can see actual flames," she said. "It's a scary situation." Triple-digit temperatures that many parts of California are experiencing help wildfires explode out of control and make it even harder for firefighters on the ground to work. I-15 links Las Vegas with Los Angeles, threading through the narrow pass that funnels winds through the sparsely populated area known for its small communities and equestrian properties. The Blue Cut Fire is the latest in a string of destructive wildfires across drought-stricken California. Tuesday afternoon, firefighters said the Clayton Fire has burned at least 175 structures, many of them homes, in the town of Lower Lake, a community of about 1,300 people 100 miles north of San Francisco. Authorities on Monday arrested a man they said started that and at least a dozen other fires in the area.