BIG BEAR LAKE (AP) — Evacuation orders have been lifted for hundreds of mountain homes threatened by a fire near a popular Southern California ski resort.
The orders were lifted at 2 p.m. Monday, firefighter Uriah Hernandez said. They had been in place for up to 500 homes, many of them cabins and vacation houses, and crews aided by a squadron of aircraft worked to protect them.
Firefighters working in steep terrain held the blaze near Snow Summit resort in Big Bear Lake to about 100 acres. It was 50 percent contained.
Several planes and helicopters were able to make easy water pickups at the town’s large lake, allowing near-continuous drops over the flames about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.
Richard Rhode used a hose to spray down a cabin owned by his daughter, who was out of town. He praised the firefighters’ fast response. “They put a line up, and they stopped it maybe a 100, 150 yards from us,” he told KABC-TV.
Sixteen active wildfires were burning in California, but none posed serious danger Monday. Officials warned, however, that the risk of fire would increase this week as temperatures soar and humidity drops across the state.
Water cannons usually used for making snow at the ski resort were turned on shortly after the fire broke out Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve made plans for this exact scenario,” Snow Summit’s marketing manager Chris Riddle told KABC-TV. “We’re pumping out a bunch of water right now, wetting down the trees, wetting down the surrounding grass.”
The resort in the San Bernardino Mountains was open for mountain biking and scenic ski-lift rides before closing for the fire, Riddle said.
All schools within the Bear Valley Unified School District were closed Monday because of the blaze. Several mountain roads were off-limits.
In Central California, timber and brush left parched by the state’s extended drought again spread a fire that has been burning for nearly a month. It grew to more than 78 square miles.
Firefighters were slowly making progress on the stubborn blaze that destroyed a lodge near Kings Canyon National Park in Fresno County. The fire was 7 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. No injuries have been reported.
Smoke from the huge fire was expected to degrade air quality, especially in valley areas to the northeast, officials said.