A fast-moving wildfire near Silverwood Lake in southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains continued to burn out of control Sunday night, scorching some 1,500 acres, and prompting evacuation orders and road closures, officials said.
The blaze, dubbed the Pilot Fire, erupted about 12:10p near the Miller Canyon OHV area off of Highway 138, according to the federal InciWeb page for the fire. (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/5/)
The location is east of Silverwood Lake and north of Crestline.
Within hours, the wildfire had dramatically increased in size, growing to 1,000 acres as hundreds of firefighters were called to the scene to try and extinguish the flames.
As of 8:40p Sunday night the fire had charred 1,500 acres and containment remained at Zero%, officials said.
The blaze is burning in a sparsely populated area of the San Bernardino National Forest, but some evacuations have gone into effect. The order affected residents for the Summit Valley area east of Cedar Springs Dam, according to InciWeb.
The southside of the 173 between Cedar Springs Spillway and Mojave Forks Park has also been evacuated, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
An American Red Cross Reception and Care Center was set up for displaced residents at Ranchero Middle School, which is located at 17607 Ranchero Rd. in Hesperia.
Large animals can be taken to the San Bernardino Country Fairground at 14800 Seventh Street in Victorville.
Authorities have not said how many people and residences have been affected by the orders.
The blaze, which was being fueled by timber and brush, was spreading at a moderate rate and sending tall columns of smoke over the mountains that was visible for miles in the Inland Empire, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said.
It was initially estimated at 30 acres when it broke out before rapidly spreading in the afternoon.
About 400 firefighters have been assigned to battle the blaze; resources including 36 engines, eight crews, five dozers, eight helicopters and eight air tankers, according to InciWeb. Additional fire crews were being sent to the scene, and a night flight helicopter has been requested to aid in the fire fight overnight.
“We don’t have a lot of wind on this, but it’s terrain driven; running up the hill, came over, running up the next hill, coming over. And that’s what we are looking at right now, incredibly dry fuels,” said Bob Poole of the US Forest Service.
Mr. Poole did not know exactly when the last major fire burned in the area, saying only that it had been “a while.”
In addition to evacuations, Highway 173 was closed between Highway 138 and Arrowhead Lake Road. The 138 between highways 15 and 18 has been reopened, according to InciWeb.
By mid-afternoon, temperatures in the area had climbed to 95 degrees, with humidity at about 18%. Winds were blowing from the south at 7 mph, with gusts of up to 17 mph.
A smoke advisory was issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District late Sunday afternoon, impacting portions of the central San Bernardino Mountains. It is scheduled to last through Monday.
The smoke was moving north, heading mainly into the Victor Valley and high desert areas, a South Coast AQMD news release stated.
It was not immediately known what sparked the fire.
Officials have set up an information hotline for questions regarding the Pilot Fire at 909-383-5688.
Remember, when traveling in fire danger zones always take extreme care, lives and property depend on it.
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