Lake fire grows to 10,000 acres

More than 1,200 have been sent to bat­tle the blaze, which grew to 10,000 acres by night­fall Thurs­day.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Veron­ica Rocha and Matt Hamil­ton veron­ matt.hamil­ton

Campers are evac­u­ated as f lames tear through the San Bernardino Na­tional For­est.

Flames tore through thou­sands of acres of tim­ber in the San Bernardino Moun­tains on Thurs­day, prompt­ing hun­dreds to evac­u­ate as drought-rav­aged Cal­i­for­nia saw its largest forest­land fire this year, of­fi­cials said.

The Lake fire grew to 10,000 acres by night­fall as dry, windy con­di­tions spread the flames east, threat­en­ing homes along High­way 38, said Anna Bri­bi­escas, a spokes­woman for the U.S. For­est Ser­vice.

Winds gust­ing up to 25 mph pushed the blaze to­ward about 150 struc­tures, mostly cab­ins, nes­tled in the San Gor­gonio Wilder­ness Area, fire and weather of­fi­cials said.

The fire erupted about 4 p.m. Wed­nes­day near Jenks Lake Road, an area known for its bu­colic sum­mer camps op­er­ated by churches and the YMCA, ac­cord­ing to the For­est Ser­vice. Overnight, it grew to 1,000 acres.

More than 1,200 fire per­son­nel — with 10 he­li­copters, 88 fire en­gines and one bull­dozer — have been de­ployed to bat­tle the blaze, which sent a wide plume of smoke more than 250 miles east over the Mo­jave Desert, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

The South Coast Air Qual­ity Man­age­ment Dis­trict is­sued a smoke ad­vi­sory, warn­ing of un­health­ful air qual­ity across the eastern San Bernardino Moun­tains.

The cause of the fire is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

More than 175 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from five camps in the area, in­clud­ing Camp de Ben­neville Pines, which was host­ing the theater-ori­ented Camp Bravo for mid­dle and high school stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to the camp’s web­site. Chil­dren were bused to a high school in Red­lands and re­united with their par­ents.

Com­mu­ni­ties around the burn area, lo­cated south of the sum­mit of Su­gar­loaf Moun­tain, were also or­dered to evac­u­ate. They in­cluded Onyx Sum­mit, Bar­ton Flats, Seven Oaks and homes off Rain­bow Lane.

Of­fi­cials closed parts of the Pa­cific Crest Trail and all hik­ing trails into the San Gor­gonio Wilder­ness.

At least one hiker had to be res­cued. Stan­ley Reese, 74, of Dana Point was on a three-day back­pack­ing trip in the San Gor­gonio Wilder­ness. When he re­al­ized he was in the fire’s path, he used a GPS de­vice to re­port an emer­gency. He was air­lifted to safety and re­united with his fam­ily, county sher­iff ’s of­fi­cials said.

Fire­fight­ers have been chal­lenged by the drought’s toll on the sprawl­ing forest­land. A study by the U.S. For­est Ser­vice re­leased this spring found that the drought, now in its fourth year, has killed at least 12.5 mil­lion trees in the state’s na­tional forests.

The Lake fire is among sev­eral that broke out in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. River­side County fire­fight­ers were bat­tling a 60-acre brush fire in Ther­mal, which de­stroyed three homes and left one fire­fighter hos­pi­tal­ized with non-life-threat­en­ing in­juries. Of­fi­cials said that crews had halted the spread of the fire but it re­mained only 5% con­tained.

Ir­fan Khan Los An­ge­les Times

Pho­tog raphs by Gina Ferazzi Los An­ge­les Times

PALO­MAR HOT­SHOT Derek Co­drey ra­dioes a dozer crew about the wall of f lames com­ing up the ridge as the Lake fire burns more than 10,000 acres of the San Bernardino Na­tional For­est in An­gelus Oaks.

PINE TREES burn as the Lake fire spans more than 10,000 acres of the San Bernardino Na­tional For­est.

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