Wildfire in San Bernardino Mountains grows to nearly 21,000 acres after winds shift

Wildfire in San Bernardino Mountains grows to nearly 21,000 acres after winds shift
Strike teams light backfires to battle the Lake fire near the Santa Ana River Trail in the San Bernardino National Forest on June 20. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A shift in winds caused a wildfire raging near Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains to push northward late Wednesday, spreading to 20,875 acres and prompting residents and a summer camp to evacuate, authorities said.

The Lake fire, which started June 17, continued tearing through timber and parched vegetation south of Highway 38 and shifted in the afternoon toward Rainbow Lane, threatening 7,000 structures, according to the U.S. Forest Service.


"The winds were pretty heavy today," said Uriah Hernandez, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

More than 1,900 people have been deployed to battle the fire, which is now 27% contained. Officials are continuing to investigate what sparked the blaze, the largest this year in California's national forests. Officials estimate the firefight has cost $14 million.

Late Wednesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department ordered residents of Burns Canyon and Rimrock to evacuate, with Pioneertown under a voluntary evacuation, sheriff's officials said.

A shelter was set up at Copper Mountain College in Yucca Valley, whose municipal animal shelter is housing small animals.

About 360 campers and staff at Camp Oakes were also evacuated Wednesday, with campers sent to a church, then bused to their home cities, according to the camp's Facebook announcement.

About 6 p.m., officials also grounded all fixed-wing planes involved in the firefight after a drone was spotted near Onyx Summit.

A smoke advisory remains in effect for Yucca Valley, Morongo Valley, Lucerne Valley and neighboring communities, according to the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District.

Several areas remained closed as firefighters continued their efforts. Highway 38 was closed between Angelus Oaks and Lake Williams.

Evacuations remain in effect for areas east of Angelus Oaks, Onyx Summit, Barton Flats, Seven Oaks, Heart Bar and homes off Rainbow Lane.

Hiking trails in the San Gorgonio Wilderness are closed. The Pacific Crest Trail from Whitewater Preserve Onyx Summit is closed.

Early in the firefight, authorities evacuated children from five camps.

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