The South Fire burning in the Lytle Creek area had grown to 900 acres and destroyed at least four homes and multiple other structures as of Thursday night.
Crews worked through the night to battle the dry-brush fueled fire, attacking it from the ground and the air as flames threatened to advance onto hundreds of homes.
The blaze broke out around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday and was burning near the 15 Freeway, in the area of Lytle Creek and Duncan roads, north of the Glen Helen Parkway. It was 10% contained as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
By 4 p.m. Thursday, three new fires broke out in the area of Duncan Canyon, near the South Fire’s point of origin, San Bernardino National Forest officials said. Crews were responding to those blazes. Sky5 was overhead when firefighters were getting a good handle on a fire burning near the 15 Freeway in the area.
At least 1,000 residents were ordered to flee their homes shortly after the blaze was reported.
The areas of Lytle Creek Road north and south of the Ranger Station, west of Sierra Avenue, north of the 15 Freeway and east of Duncan Canyon Road remained under mandatory evacuation orders.
All residents north of Glen Helen Parkway, East of Sierra/Lytle Creek Road and West of the 15 Freeway were under evacuation warnings.
An evacuation shelter was set up at the Jessie Turner Center on 15556 Summit Ave. in Fontana.
The fire had destroyed four residential structures and 14 out buildings as of Thursday morning, according to Cal Fire.
Tim Handman lost his trailer home in the fire along the 3100 block of Lytle Creek Road.
“My place is gone,” Handman said as he stood among the fire-charred remains. “It just burned to the ground.”
Still, he had a positive outlook: “It can be replaced,” he said.
His home was on a property where multiple trailers and cars burned Wednesday, including the home of Jose Lamas.
“That’s where I lived 11 years,” Lamas said, his voice shaking as he gestured toward the fire-ravaged property barely visible in the smoky air.
“The good thing is we’re all alive,” he said. “Material wise, it’s OK. We’ll start over somehow.”
Sky5 was over the wind-fanned blaze Wednesday as the flames tore through homes and spread across the foothills, burning near power transmission lines.
A difficult firefight was still ahead for crews Thursday.
“Really tough conditions, very steep terrain,” San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief Mike McClintock told KTLA. “So we’re really going to work on today to bolster those containment lines so that we can hopefully switch to mop up in the next few days.”
More than 360 firefighters were battling the blaze Thursday morning.
The fire broke out at a time when some local firefighters are off fighting the massive wildfires in Northern California and other Western states.
“Some of our firefighters that we normally have on our forests, they’re working at fires in Northern California, or Idaho,” US Forest Service spokeswoman Lyn Sieliet told KTLA Wednesday. “We always keep a minimum staff on on hand, but we don’t have the full staff that we normally do, say when there’s no fires happening anywhere in the nation.”
Additional resources were ordered to help battle the destructive fire and were arriving on scene Thursday, according to the fire’s InciWeb page.
It remains unclear what sparked the wildfire. Officials said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
A GoFundMe page was set up for the Barnes family, who lost their work shop in the fire. The fundraiser was seeking $10,000 to help them get back on their feet.
Another GoFundMe page was created for Jose LLamas and Maria Covarrubbias, who lost their home due to the fire. The couple’s children started the fundraiser with a goal of raising $30,000.
The following roads were still closed due to the fire Thursday:
- Sierra Ave North of the 15 Freeway
- Lytle Creek Road to Duncan Canyon
- Lytle Creek Road to Sierra Avenue
- Glen Helen Parkway at Sycamore Center Drive
- Lone Pine Canyon Road at Highway 138