Ski resorts near the blazes gear up to open

Southern CALIFORNIA'S ski and snowboard resorts escaped fire damage, but near Big Bear Lake, mandatory evacuations, road closures and power outages hindered preparations for the approaching snow season.

In fact, when wintry weather arrived late last week, resort operators at Snow Valley, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain had no personnel to fire up their snow-making equipment until Sunday.

"Despite not having electricity from Edison, our [backup] power generation plant has allowed us to begin snow-making," Kevin Somes, spokesman for Snow Valley in Running Springs, said Sunday. Snow Valley, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain have each received several inches of natural snow, but because of fire-related access issues, only Bear Mountain has announced a probable opening day of Friday.

At Mountain High in the San Gabriel Mountains, the snow guns started blowing early Friday. The facility's West Resort opened Monday.

Beyond Southern California, Boreal at Donner Summit near Lake Tahoe opened Saturday. Other Lake Tahoe-area resorts, most of them blanketed by more than 2 feet of snow, are scheduled to open before Thanksgiving. Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierra opens Thursday.

-- Pete Thomas

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