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.
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.
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.