Old Water Fire: Evacuations Lifted as Crews Respond to Flareup Near Residential Area in San Bernardino

Data pix.

Crews responded to a flareup in a residential area in San Bernardino on Thursday afternoon after they appeared to gain an upper hand on a wind-driven, 105-acre blaze that broke out early in the morning.

A Cal Fire firefighter mops up a hot spot on a hillside along Highway 18 in San Bernardino on Oct. 24, 2019. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A Cal Fire firefighter mops up a hot spot on a hillside along Highway 18 in San Bernardino on Oct. 24, 2019. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The blaze, dubbed the Old Water Fire, began just after 2 a.m. near Old Waterman Canyon Road and Highway 18, San Bernardino National Forest spokesperson Zach Behrens said. It was 30 percent contained Thursday evening.

The fire triggered mandatory evacuations for about 80 homes in the following areas:

  • Mariposa Drive and David Way near 40th Street
  • Arrowhead Road off of Waterman Canyon

While that mandate remained in place, voluntary evacuation orders issued for residents north of Foothill Drive between Del Rosa Avenue and Manzanita Drive were lifted by noon, when the blaze was 30% contained and remained at 75 acres.

All evacuation orders were lifted at 8 p.m., fire officials said. The areas will be open only to residents.

At around 1:30 p.m., crews responded to a flareup near a community on North David Way and 40th Street.

Highway 18 and 40th Street, which had been closed much of the afternoon, reopened at 6 p.m., fire officials said.

Evacuated residents were being directed to an evacuation center at San Gorgonio High School, located at 2299 Pacific St.

Evacuee Bill Lamontree said police officers knocked on his door to tell him to leave around 4:30 a.m.

“When I opened the door, the smell of the smoke was very thick,” he told KTLA.

San Bernardino City Animal Control will temporarily house small animals. Those with horses or other livestock can also contact them about the limited space. Animal Control is located at 333 West Chandler Place.

The fire risk remained high due to extremely dry, hot and windy conditinos.

“Thursday and Friday are supposed to be very, very windy,” Behrens said.

Red flag warnings were in place through 5 p.m. Friday in San Bernardino County.

By 6 a.m., winds were gusting up to 50 mph on the ridge tops, the National Forest tweeted.

Southern California Edison has cut power to more than 7,200 residents in San Bernardino County in an effort to prevent wildfires in high-wind areas. SCE's website has the latest list and maps of neighborhoods experiencing outages.

California State University San Bernardino had already canceled classes Thursday due to anticipated winds of up to 75 mph. A notice was posted on the school's Facebook page Wednesday night.

The San Bernardino County Unified School district also canceled classes for Paakuma' K-8 School in San Bernardino.

The Forest Service was teaming up with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, Cal Fire and local agencies in battling the Old Water Fire, Behrens said.

An air attack arrived about 4:45 a.m. to help in the firefight, he said. Around 400 firefighters were at the scene battling the blaze.

An information call center has been opened at 909-383-5688 for the public to ask questions.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

KTLA's Brian Day contributed to this report.

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