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Flames subside on ridgeline near Running Springs

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At Snow Valley ski resort, the command post for the Slide fire, firefighters awoke Saturday morning to a hopeful sign: They could no longer see flames licking the ridgeline.

In recent days, many of the engine crews had turned to snuffing out spot fires in Running Springs or were clearing land near Lake Arrowhead in case the wind kicked up and the fire dashed west.

They also surveyed the Slide fire’s devastation -- homes hollowed out amid dead trees that turned streets into tinderboxes.

The last few nights, Joe Hatfield, a fire captain for the city of Ontario, has scoured parts of the San Bernardino National Forest for flaming tree trunks and loose embers. Sometimes, his thoughts slowed and his eyes drooped -- but only briefly.

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‘Sure, this work we’re doing isn’t glamorous. But if we miss something, someone’s house could go up like that,’ he said.

He was reminded of that Friday morning, when he was on mop-up duty in Running Springs.

A strike team nearby found flames. The fire quickly raced from underneath a deck to a house and into the attic before firefighters put it out.

‘Just when you think nothing’s happening, something does,’ he said.

-- Ashley Powers


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