California wildfire dangers may be spreading south

Aug 26, 2021, 6:22 AM
The French Fire comes close to destroying homes on August 24, 2021 in Wofford Heights, California. ...
The French Fire comes close to destroying homes on August 24, 2021 in Wofford Heights, California. The 16,000-acre French Fire began August 18 and is 19% contained. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wildfire that burned several homes near Los Angeles may signal that the region is facing the same dangers that have scorched Northern California.

The fire in San Bernardino County erupted Wednesday afternoon, quickly burned several hundred acres and damaged or destroyed at least a dozen homes and outbuildings in the foothills northeast of LA, fire officials said. Crews used shovels and bulldozers and mounted an air attack to keep the South Fire from the tiny communities of Lytle Creek and Scotland near the Cajon Pass.

Some 600 homes and other buildings were threatened along with power transmission lines, and 1,000 residents were under evacuation orders.

By nightfall, firefighters appeared to have gained the upper hand and few flames were to be seen. But the blaze was worrying because Southern California’s high fire season is typically later in the year when strong, dry Santa Ana winds blast out of the interior and flow toward the coast.

After a few cooler days, the southern region was expected to see a return of hot weather heading into the weekend. In addition to dangerously dry conditions, the region is faced with firefighting staffing that is increasingly stretched thin, said Lyn Sieliet, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest.

“Some of our firefighters that we normally have on our forests are working on fires in Northern California, or Idaho and Washington,” she told KTLA-TV. “We don’t have the full staff that we normally do.”

The largest fires in the state and in the nation were in Northern California, where they have burned down small mountain towns and destroyed huge swaths of tinder-dry forest.

The Caldor Fire destroyed some 500 homes since Aug. 14 in the Sierra Nevada southwest of Lake Tahoe, including much of the tiny hamlet of Grizzly Flats. It was 12% contained and threatened more than 17,000 structures.

Buck Minitch, a firefighter with the Pioneer Fire Protection District, was called to the fire lines last week while his wife fled their Grizzly Flats home with their two daughters, three dogs, a kitten and duffel bag of clothes, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Hannah Minitch evacuated to her parents’ property and the next morning received a text from her husband showing only a chimney where their house once stood. The two briefly wept together during a telephone call before he got back to work.

“‘We’ve got nothing left here,’” she recalled him saying. “’I’ve got to go protect what’s left for other people.’”

At times the wind-driven fire was burning 1,000 acres of land per hour and on Wednesday it was less than two dozen miles from Lake Tahoe, an alpine vacation and tourist spot that straddles the California-Nevada state line.

There weren’t any evacuations in Tahoe but the fire continued to cast a sickly yellow pall of smoke over the scenic region.

South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City on the west shore had the nation’s worst air pollution at midmorning Wednesday, according to AirNow, a partnership of federal, state and local air agencies.

Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,160 square miles (3,004 square kilometers), was burning only about 65 miles (104 kilometers) to the north. It was 45% contained. Some 700 homes were among nearly 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed.

In the southern Sierra Nevada, there was growing concern as the French Fire expanded near Lake Isabella, a popular fishing and boating destination. About 10 communities were under evacuation orders. The fire has blackened 32 square miles (83 square kilometers) since Aug. 18.

Smoke from the fires had fouled air farther south. The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an advisory through Thursday morning for large portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Nationally, 92 large fires were burning in 13 mainly Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

This image provided by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory shows a view from a research camera on...
Associated Press

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa starts to erupt, sending ash nearby

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has started to erupt for the first time in nearly four decades, prompting volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby.
9 hours ago
Flowers and stuffed animals are lined up outside the University of Idaho to pay tribute to four stu...
Elizabeth Wolfe and Eric Levenson, CNN

University of Idaho students return to campus from break with still no arrest in quadruple killings

University of Idaho students are expected to return to campus Monday from Thanksgiving break despite the lack of a suspect or arrest in the stabbing deaths of four students at an off-campus home.
9 hours ago
The pilot and passenger survived and are OK, according to rescue officials. (Pete Piringer/mcfrsPIO...
Associated Press

Crews rescue 2 from plane caught in power lines in Maryland

Authorities say two people have been rescued more than six hours after their single-engine plane crashed and got stuck in some live power lines in Maryland.
9 hours ago
Travelers at Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) ahead of the Thanksgiving ho...
Samantha Beech and Keith Allen, CNN

Thousands of US flights delayed Sunday as major storm system hampers travel

As of Sunday evening, 4,944 flights into, out of or within the United States have been delayed, according to FlightAware, and 163 US flights have been canceled, the website noted.
1 day ago
A teenager has been charged as an adult after police claim he killed another young person and confe...
Tavleen Tarrant, CNN

Police: Pennsylvania teenager confessed killing a girl on Instagram

A teenager has been charged as an adult after police claim he killed another young person and confessed on an Instagram video chat, asking for help disposing of the body
1 day ago
A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between W...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US team out of 2022 World Cup after it changes Iran flag on social media

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
California wildfire dangers may be spreading south