A brush fire on Little Mountain in San Bernardino County spread rapidly Monday night, burning 20 acres and damaging at least three homes, fire officials said.
The fire started shortly after 5 p.m. Monday in thick brush near West 39th Street and North Severance Avenue. It grew rapidly as winds with gusts of up to 30 mph pushed the blaze uphill toward homes, causing an immediate threat, the agency said.
Jimmy Schiller, a field public information officer with San Bernardino County Fire, said several residents were evacuated. A resident whose home was in direct path of the fire was rescued by emergency personnel, Schiller said.
Some residents refused to leave their homes, causing additional challenges for firefighters, he said.
“When the fire department asks you to leave, go,” said Schiller, a firefighter and paramedic.
At least 100 firefighters were on the scene Monday evening, including 16 fire engines, four chiefs, aircraft and two hand crews. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department aviation unit assisted with water drops.
Children in nearby after-school programs sheltered in place at 5:30 p.m. and remained indoors, according to the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
There are few hydrants in the Little Mountain area. Crews had a limited water supply, with water tenders running up and down the hill to resupply.
Multiple power lines were down in the area. Crews will spend the rest of the night putting out hot spots, combing the hillside with hand tools to ensure they don’t miss anything, Schiller said.
Fire weather is returning to broad swaths of Northern California as Southern California is expecting its first winter storm of the season.
The California Legislature held a public hearing to scrutinize public safety power shutoffs after millions of residents lost power to prevent wildfires.
Last month’s Easy fire in Simi Valley also chewed through the library’s internet and cable box, taking down its computer network.
Little Mountain is an area prone to fires, in part because it is in the direct path of wind that comes through a nearby mountain pass, Schiller said. Firefighters regularly perform prescribed burns in the area. About three months ago, the agency burned about 100 acres to help mitigate fire risk, he said.
However, with wind, dry conditions and a limited water supply, all that was needed Monday was a spark.
“It was a recipe for an unfortunate afternoon,” Schiller said.
The cause of the Little Mountain fire remains under investigation.