Etiwanda fire chars 1,600 acres, blaze is 53% contained

Firefighters made significant headway in their efforts to battle a wildfire that has charred more than 1,600 acres of parched brush in the San Bernardino National Forest near Rancho Cucamonga, the U.S. Forest Service said Thursday night.

The Etiwanda fire was 53% contained as firefighters on the ground were working to cut containment lines with hand crews and bulldozers, officials said. The blaze was burning in the foothills Thursday night away from residential areas.

Earlier Thursday, an air-attack supervisor in a plane flew over the fire to pinpoint where the blaze was flaring and conduct aerial mapping. That flyover allowed fire officials to determine that 1,627 acres had been burned.

The fire was fanned by stiff Santa Ana winds, which were gusting at 25 mph to 30 mph Thursday afternoon. The day before, wind gusts of 80 mph were recorded. The powerful winds created dangerous conditions that prevented aircraft from attacking the flames with water and retardant drops. 

No major damage had been reported as a result of the blaze so far. Fire officials said Thursday that one house sustained minor damage, but did not elaborate. More than 1,600 homes Wednesday were under mandatory evacuation orders, but those were downgraded to voluntary by the afternoon. 

Three firefighters received minor injuries. The fierce winds that pushed the flames had subsided by nightfall, and red flag fire warnings signaling critical fire danger were lifted by the National Weather Service.

The heat wave that has been baking the region was expected to continue through Friday before a cooling trend begins over the weekend, according to the Weather Service. 


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