June 18–Authorities have shut down Highway 38 in Angelus Oaks this morning after a wildfire that ignited Wednesday afternoon in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains caused multiple camps to be evacuated and grew to 100 acres by midnight.
The highway was closed around 3:30 a.m. from Hatchery to Valley of the Falls in anticipation of the blaze jumping roadway which leads in and out of Big Bear, according to the California Highway Patrol incident log.
The blaze, dubbed the Lake Fire, remained 15 percent contained at 11 p.m., according to John Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.
After nightfall, winds died down and temperatures dropped as the humidity rose, causing the fire to lay low, Miller said. But the potential for the fire to grow remained.
“We definitely have a concern about a large fire in the San Gorgonio wilderness area,” Miller said.
Firefighters hope slightly milder temperatures Thursday will help with battling the blaze. Temperatures are expected to be around 85 degrees, a slight drop from 89 on Wednesday.
Smoke and a red glow was still visible around 5 a.m. Thursday.
The fire ignited about 4 p.m. near Highway 38 and Jenks Lake Road.
The area hosts dozens of camp sites, and can host 2,000 people during peak season, which starts in a couple of weeks, Miller said.
Roughly 160 people were evacuated from the camping areas, the U.S. Forest Service said.
Children at the camps were driven down to Citrus Valley High School in Redlands to be picked up by their parents.
Structures at the camps, most of which are privately owned but on National Forest land, were threatened but no damages had been reported. The closest full time residence are miles away, but many other camps, camping areas and cabins are located between the fire line and the full-time homes to the northeast.
“Erratic winds” caused the fire to spread at a moderate rate during the day and forced airplanes to land, while helicopters continued fighting the fire, Miller said.
Overnight one helicopter and an air attack unit flew above the fire’s orange glow.
The fire’s cause hasn’t been determined.
A webcam showed smoke wafting from a mountainside thick with pine trees. After sunset, flames could be seen below the smoke.
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