State of Emergency Declared, 82000 Evacuated After Southern California’s Blue Cut Fire Explodes to 18000 Acres – The Weather Channel

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Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the Blue Cut fire.

The inferno burned 18,000 acres and forced 82,000 to evacuate.

The wildfire was started amid extremely hot, dry conditions and low humidity, making the battle more difficult for firefighters.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency after a fast-moving wildfire in Southern California’s Cajon Pass exploded to 18,000 acres and chased more than 82,000 residents from their homes.

With low humidity and temperatures in the triple digits, the so-called Blue Cut fire, first reported around 10:30 a.m. PDT Tuesday morning near Interstate 15, is burning out of control, KTLA.com reported.

“This moved so fast,” Darren Dalton, 51, who evacuated from his home in Wrightwood, told the Associated Press. “It went from ‘have you heard there’s a fire?’ to ‘mandatory evacuation’ before you could take it all in.”

Six firefighters were briefly trapped while defending homes and assisting in evacuations in the Swarthout Canyon area west of Cajon Pass, according to a press release from San Bernardino County Fire. The firefighters were able to shelter in place within a nearby structure, but two sustained minor injuries. They were treated and went back to the fire line. 

“We were fully engulfed in smoke,” firefighter Cody Anderson told KCBS-TV, as rpeorted by the AP. “It was really hard just to see your hand in front of your face. We just hunkered down and sat there and waited for the fire to blow over.”

As of Wednesday morning, the raging inferno was at 0 percent containment, according to Cal Fire.

“We know that we’ve lost structures, it’s unknown how many at this time,” San Bernardino County Fire Department public information officer Tracey Martinez told the L.A. Times. “This fire is still raging out of control.”

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At Blue Mountain Farms, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles in the town of Phelan, ranchers had to face the reality that a wildfire was burning in their area for the second time in two years.

“Breathing smoke again, just like last year,” Shannon Anderson, a partner in the ranch, told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “It’s raining ash.”

Some 700 firefighters are battling the blaze, according to InciWeb. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

“We’re seeing very aggressive fire behavior, burning through the brush,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Bob Poole told KTLA.com. “This is difficult to get in front of this and try to corral it.”

All schools will be closed Wednesday in the Snowline, Hesperia Unified, Silver Valley, Apple Valley and Oro Grande school districts, KTLA.com also reported.

Charges Filed in Northern California’s Clayton Fire

A man has been charged in connection with a number of California wildfires, including the Clayton fire in northern California, where more than 175 buildings have been destroyed over the past few days.

Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, of Clearlake, California, was arrested on 17 counts of arson in connection with several fires in Lake County over the past year, including the Clayton fire, Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin and Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the AP.

“Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts continue to be with the people of Lake County during this difficult time,” Pimlott said. 

Pimlott told the Los Angeles Times that Pashilk had been under investigation for about a year.

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Just one year after a wildfire claimed four lives and more than 1,300 homes in Lake County, more than 1,600 firefighters continue to battle the fast-moving Clayton fire in the same area near northern California’s Lower Lake that has destroyed an additional 175 buildings, including an estimated 100 homes, and has forced the evacuation of 4,000 people.

“We are all devastated to have so much destruction,” Melissa Fulton, chief executive officer of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, told the Sacramento Bee. “We feel we were put through hell last year and now we are in it again.”

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Cal Fire reported on Tuesday night that the Clayton fire has consumed 4,000 acres and is now 35 percent contained.

The blaze was first reported just before 5 p.m. Saturday in the area of Clayton Creek Road and Highway 29, according to the AP.

The flames jumped a road Sunday and moved into the town of 1,200, where a post office, a winery, a Habitat for Humanity office and several other businesses were destroyed. The high school is still unharmed, according to SFGate.com, but the sports fields were burned, and classes have been canceled indefinitely.

“When I saw the fire coming over the ridge, I knew we didn’t have a chance,” David Barreda, who lost his home to the inferno, told SFGate.com.

Although there has been massive loss of property in this fire, no injuries have been reported.

Chimney Fire Continues to Grow in Central California

A wildfire burning in San Luis Obispo County, California has grown to 6,900 acres, destroyed 30 homes and forced the evacuation of hundreds, according to Cal Fire.

The so-called Chimney fire, which began around 4 p.m. on Saturday southwest of Lake Nacimiento in the community of Running Deer Ranch, was 20 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, according to Cal Fire.

Sgt. Jeff Nichols of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office told The Tribune that some 250 homes have been evacuated in the area.

Cal Fire reports that more than 2,100 personnel are tackling the blaze. The fire “continues to burn actively with short range spotting and torching observed,” Cal Fire said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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