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Excessive Heat Watch

Moisture to Help Firefighters Gain Upper Hand on Destructive North Fire Burning in California

By By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
July 22, 2015, 10:37:22 AM EDT

Firefighters have gained the upper hand on the 4,300-acre wildfire that rapidly moved across the I-15 Freeway near Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County, California, on Friday, forcing closure of part of the major highway and destroying multiple vehicles.

InciWeb reports that the fire, which started around 2:33 p.m. PDT Friday near Interstate 15 north of Highway 138, was 95 percent contained as of Monday night. All evacuations prompted by the fire have been lifted.

One injury has been confirmed, according to InciWeb. The blaze destroyed seven homes, 16 outbuildings and 44 vehicles in the community of Baldy Mesa.

Twenty other vehicles were also destroyed when the fire crossed the southbound lanes of Interstate 15.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Carapia told ABC 7 News in Los Angeles that 50 to 75 vehicles were left abandoned on the freeway. All lanes of the interstate have since reopened.

InciWeb also reports that a drone halted tanker operations for about 25 minutes Friday afternoon before operations soon resumed.

Showers and thunderstorms will continue to be a double-edged sword for firefighters through Monday.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, the area around the fire received several hundredths to tenths of an inch of rain during Sunday night.

The high humidity levels and recent rains should assist firefighters by keeping the fuel for wildfire moist and more difficult to ignite.

On the other hand, a brief downpour could be enough to cause debris flows and hinder the mobilization of firefighting crews and equipment.


According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, "There could also be gusty and erratic winds rushing away from the thunderstorms and lightning strikes away from the thunderstorm's rain could spark additional wildfires."

Fights and thefts have been reported at one store along the interstate during the evacuations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Evacuation centers are being organized and multiple fire departments are on hand to combat the blaze, including the San Bernardino County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service.

A second fire, dubbed the Pine Fire, was reported near Wrightwood, California. Within 8 minutes, the wildfire went from 25 to more than 100 acres, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. The fire has since charred 200 acres.

About 90 Girl Scouts were evacuated from a campground near Wrightwood, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported. About 300 campers were also evacuated from a second campground in the Pine Fire area.

Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger contributed to this story.

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