850-Acre Holcomb Fire Burns Northeast of Big Bear

Firefighters are battling a wildfire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest northeast of Big Bear Lake on Monday evening, and firefighting aircraft were scheduled to work past nightfall.

A firefighting aircraft drops retardant on the Holcomb Fire on June 19, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

The blaze was reported off Holcomb Valley Road about 3 p.m., on a day with record-breaking heat.

By 5 p.m., about 200 acres had burned; the acreage estimate grew to 850 acres by about 6 p.m. No homes were threatened, according to a federal InciWeb information page for the blaze, being called the Holcomb Fire.

The InciWeb page said there were no evacuation orders, but the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the Baldwin Lake area, the Tanglewood Campground and the nearby dump were being evacuated. The Big Bear Fire Department said Holcomb Valley was under voluntary evacuation.  However at about 7:30 p.m., the fire department said in a tweet that the evacuations were reported in error and no evacuations were were in effect.

"There is a rapid rate of spread," the Big Bear Fire Department stated on its website.

The fire was burning chaparral and timber, moving northeast, toward the desert.

Smoke rises from the Holcomb Fire on June 19, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

It was 89 degrees in Big Bear on Monday, breaking a 1985 record for the date. The InciWeb page stated it was "hot and dry" in the fire area, with 5 mph winds from the southeast gusting to 23 mph.

More than a dozen firefighting aircraft were responding to the blaze, which was sending smoke towering above the mountain area about 80 miles east-northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Eight air tankers, including a "very large air tanker" or VLAT, responded, along with several helicopters and many ground-based crews. Firefighters used bulldozers to plow away vegetation, and flash lights late Monday as they continued the firefight.

Fire officials said there was only one home currently in the Holcomb Fire's path.

"It's a small ranch and right now the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is trying to locate the owner. They went to his residence but he wasn't home,"  Chon Bribiescas, of the U.S. Forest Service told KTLA. "

Highway 18 was closed from Baldwin Lake to Lucerne Valley, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said on Twitter. Several Forest Service roads were closed in the area, as was Holcomb Valley Road East at Highway 18.

Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs nearby, were warned to avoid the area.

 

KTLA's Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime contributed to this story.