A fast-moving brush fire above Rancho Cucamonga in the San Bernardino National Forest grew rapidly to 200 acres by midmorning, prompting school closures and voluntary evacuation orders for some hillside homes.
Driven by powerful Santa Ana winds, the Etiwanda fire was reported shortly after 8 a.m. in the Day Canyon area not far from Lone Pine Canyon Road north of the 210 Freeway, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
It was first reported at 20 acres, but quickly grew to 100 acres little more than an hour later. As of 10 a.m., the blaze had consumed an estimated 200 acres, fire officials reported.
Due to the steep, remote terrain, firefighters were having difficulty reaching the blaze, officials said. Meanwhile, powerful winds with gusts of up to 80 mph were preventing air crews from making water drops, according to the forest service.
Flames that reached the canyons above Day Creek Intermediate School by 9:30 a.m. prompted evacuation of the Coyote Drive school and nearby Caryn Elementary, the Etiwanda School District said in a statement on its website. Students were being bused to Heritage Intermediate and Perdew Elementary schools, where district officials said parents could pick up their children.
District officials said they were working with local fire agencies to monitor the fire, the statement said.
Los Osos High School, located just blocks north of Caryn Elementary, was also being evacuated, according to the school’s website. Fire and sheriff’s officials were on campus assisting with the evacuation, the school said, and students without cars on campus were being bused to Rancho Cucamonga High School, where parents and guardians were asked to pick up their children.
“At this time, multiple streets around the campus are very congested or closed,” the Los Osos website said.
As of approximately 10 a.m., the evacuation area was north of Wilson Avenue, between Etiwanda Avenue and Day Creek Wash, according to the Forest Service.
Damaging wind gusts of 60 to 75 mph combined with temperatures nearing 100 degrees had prompted red flag warnings across much of the region Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we anticipated these fire conditions because of the fire warning,” Liz Brown, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire, told KTLA-TV.