Evacuations Lifted After Fire That Started As Controlled Burn Scorches 70 Acres, Threatens Homes in Apple Valley

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A brush fire that started as a controlled burn in a park near Victorville and grew quickly to 70 acres was 30 percent contained Tuesday evening after threatening structures and prompting evacuations and road closures in Apple Valley.

Winds picked up and pushed the fire in a new direction, authorities said. (Credit: Apple Valley Fire Protection District)

Winds picked up and pushed the fire in a new direction, authorities said. (Credit: Apple Valley Fire Protection District)

The so-called River Bottom Fire started as a controlled burn by San Bernardino County Regional Parks to take care of overgrown vegetation, authorities said, according to the Victorville Daily Press. Winds shifted and the burn got out of control.

The blaze was reported in the riverbed at Mojave Narrows Park in the unincorporated community of Spring Valley Lake, with the San Bernardino County Fire Department responding about noon, according to a tweet.

By the time the fire had grown to 35 acres, structures near Riverside Drive and Seneca Road (map) were threatened, the department said on Twitter at 12:41 p.m. The intersection is in a residential area of the town of Apple Valley, just to the east of the park.

San Bernardino County Fire Department tweeted this photo of the blaze in the Apple Valley area on March 31, 2015, saying multiple agencies were aiding.

San Bernardino County Fire Department tweeted this photo of the blaze in the Apple Valley area on March 31, 2015, saying multiple agencies were aiding.

Mandatory evacuations for Riverside Drive north of Seneca Road were announced by the Apple Valley Police Department on Twitter shortly after 2 p.m. About 45 minutes later, mandatory evacuations were also ordered for Riverside Drive south to Shoshonee Road.

The Apple Valley Fire Protection District tweeted that all of Riverside Drive was closed.

By 7:30 p.m. all mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted and Riverside Drive had been reopened to residents, according to a tweet from the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The blaze was holding at 70 acres, the district said shortly after 7:30 p.m. Winds were driving the blaze, authorities said.

Two water-dropping helicopters and more than 200 personnel were working at the height of the blaze, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Students from four schools in Apple Valley Unified might not be released or dropped off at some bus stops, according to a post on the school district’s website.

Release procedures could be affected at Desert Knolls Elementary, Granite Hills High, Rio Vista School K-8, and Sitting Bull Academy K-8, the post said, noting the schools were not threatened.

A fire burning near Victorville on March 31, 2015, in shown in a photo tweeted by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

A fire burning near Victorville on March 31, 2015, in shown in a photo tweeted by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The gym at Sitting Bull was open to evacuees, and pets could be taken to the town animal shelter, a tweet from the town of Apple Valley stated.

A photo from the Victorville Daily Press showed a shed burning.

Smoke from what was being called the River Bottom Fire could be seen towering above the blaze, photos on Twitter showed.

A wind advisory was in effect for the area from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, with gusty winds expected.