Fire tab nears $ 7 mil­lion

Nearly 2,000 peo­ple have been de­ployed to the Lake blaze south of Big Bear.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Veron­ica Rocha and Hai­ley Bran­son- Potts veron­ica. rocha @ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ Veroni­caRochaLA hai­ley. bran­son- potts @ latimes. com Twit­ter: @ hai­ley­bran­son Times staff writer Matt Hamil­ton con­trib­uted to this re­port.

As a 17,405- acre f ire con­tin­ues to burn in the San Bernardino Na­tional For­est, of­fi­cials have be­gun tab­u­lat­ing the cost of de­ploy­ing nearly 2,000 peo­ple to bat­tle the blaze in the steep, rugged ter­rain south of Big Bear.

The cur­rent es­ti­mate of send­ing 50 fire­fight­ers, 131 en­gines, 16 he­li­copters and nine f ixed- wing air­craft is $ 6.8 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­ter­a­gency Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­ter.

And the f ire­fight is far from over.

Now 24% con­tained, the Lake f ire is burn­ing in the Coon Creek area, which has not seen a ma­jor f ire in sev­eral decades, U. S. For­est Ser­vice spokes­woman Melody Lard­ner said.

Flames con­tinue to creep east­ward, bump­ing into forest­land scorched in 2006 by the Saw­tooth f ire, which burned 61,000 acres in Yucca Val­ley.

But of­fi­cials say they are op­ti­mistic: The f lames are low- in­ten­sity, and cooler tem­per­a­tures this week are help­ing f ire­fight­ers gain the up­per hand.

The eastern edge of the fire is about 8 miles from Pioneer­town, a com­mu­nity of about 350 peo­ple.

Struc­tures there are not threat­ened, but of­fi­cials have sent en­gines and bull­doz­ers there as a pre­cau­tion.

Crews have set up a con­tain­ment line along Cal­i­for­nia 38, which marks the north­ern perime­ter of the blaze.

The high­way has been closed as crews cut down sev­eral haz­ardous trees.

Evac­u­a­tions re­mained in ef­fect for ar­eas east of An­gelus Oaks, Onyx Sum­mit, Bar­ton Flats, Seven Oaks, Heart Bar and homes off Rain­bow Lane.

Hik­ing trails in the San Gor­gonio Wilder­ness are closed, as are parts of the Pa­cific Crest Trail.

Early in the f ire­fight, author­i­ties evac­u­ated chil­dren from f ive camps and bused them to Red­lands High School and later to the Univer­sity of Red­lands.

Some were re­united with their par­ents, U. S. For­est Ser­vice spokesman Lee Beyer said. Oth­ers f in­ished the re­main­der of camp at the univer­sity, he said.

The fire is the largest this year in Cal­i­for­nia’s na­tional forest­land.

With four years of drought and dis­mal snow pack mea­sure­ments, f ire­fight­ers are ex­pect­ing to see sim­i­lar wild­fire con­di­tions through the sum­mer and fall, Beyer said.

Far­ther north, f ire­fight­ers Mon­day were bat­tling a fast- mov­ing brush f ire in a riverbed near Santa Paula Air­port.

The blaze, called the River f ire, broke out about 1 p. m and had spread to about 95 acres by late af­ter­noon, the Ven­tura County Fire Depart­ment said.

Winds and dry brush fu­eled the east­ward- mov­ing blaze, which sent a plume of thick, black smoke sky­ward, ac­cord­ing to Santa Paula Fire Depart­ment spokesman Andy VanS­civer.

The fire and heavy smoke forced the air­port’s clo­sure.

County f ire Capt. Mike Lind­berry said f ire­fight­ers spot­ted an ap­par­ent home­less en­camp­ment in the riverbed near where the blaze started.

It was un­clear whether the en­camp­ment was oc­cu­pied.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

A HE­LI­COPTER col­lects wa­ter near Cal­i­for­nia 38 in the San Bernardino Na­tional For­est.

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