A wildfire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest has grown to nearly 30,000 acres, triggering local evacuations that have kept pockets of mountain residents from their homes for most of the week, authorities said Friday.
The mountain towns of Burns Canyon and Rimrock, in the path of the Lake fire that ignited June 17, remain under mandatory evacuation orders, the U.S. Forest Service said. Pioneertown is under a voluntary evacuation and several others are on high alert to flee at a moment’s notice.
The wind-driven blaze has proved stubborn for firefighters, who have had to battle the flames amid steep canyon terrain and dense, parched landscape. Gains made in containing the fire earlier this week were lost just a day later when the winds shifted, authorities said, and crews on Friday were digging in at Heartbreak Ridge to stave off the fire’s move northeast.
Earlier this week authorities announced they were forced to temporarily ground water and flame-retardant drops over the blaze because two drones had been spotted in the area. One drone was described as a fixed-wing model with a four-foot wingspan.
Though authorities urged the public to keep civilian drones away from firefighting missions, it does not appear everyone heeded the advice. A day after the drones complicated firefighting at the Lake fire, a drone was spotted at a second, smaller fire in the forest.
The fire has burned more than 46 square miles of forest and is 19% contained, the Forest Service said.
It’s one of two fires in the area.
Crews at the Sterling fire, located east of Del Rosa Avenue in San Bernardino, briefly halted air tanker drops because of a drone, the Forest Service said. The owner was not found. The blaze has burned about 100 acres and was 50% contained Friday morning, authorities said.
Officials hope cooler weather forecast for the weekend could help crews contain both fires. A wildfire burning in Santa Clarita that started earlier this week scorched 415 acres and was 95% contained Friday.
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