Fire tab nears $ 7 million
Nearly 2,000 people have been deployed to the Lake blaze south of Big Bear.
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.
A HELICOPTER collects water near California 38 in the San Bernardino National Forest.