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Burning trash barrel sparks wind-driven fire in San Bernardino

Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed a home in San Bernardino County.
Strong winds made conditions difficult for firefighters battling a blaze that damaged at least three structures in the Bloomington area of San Bernardino County.
(OnScene.TV)

A wind-driven fire broke out overnight in a residential neighborhood in San Bernardino County, burning two acres and three homes, authorities said Thursday.

San Bernardino County Fire Department crews arrived in the 10700 block of Tamarind Avenue in the Bloomington community just after midnight after reports of a fire burning in the backyard of a home, Battalion Chief Mike McClintock said.

Soon after, more residents called 911 to report that the fire had spread to a nearby home.

“There was significant wind that allowed those embers to spread from house to house,” McClintock said.

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Santa Ana wind gusts reached 50 mph overnight, fanning embers that eventually engulfed two acres and two houses. A third home was badly damaged, McClintock said. No injuries were reported.

Fire Departments from Rialto and Colton each gave an engine to help put out the fire. The Red Cross helped displaced residents find temporary housing.

The fire, which broke out on the edge of Fontana, started in a barrel that contained burning wood that was unattended in a backyard, investigators said. An ember jumped onto dry fuel, igniting the larger flame.

More than 40 firefighters were onsite at the height of the blaze, McClintock said. Crews were able to knock it down within 90 minutes, but returned multiple times to tamp down nearby hot spots. By 8 a.m., the “fire was pretty much dead,” officials said.

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Investigators are still determining whether the person burning the wood in the barrel will be charged, McClintock said.

The wind also toppled at least three big rigs on freeways in Riverside and San Bernardino counties early Thursday, temporarily closing lanes, Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said. The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to an inquiry asking whether injuries were reported.

The high winds also closed a COVID-19 vaccination site at Disneyland. The site is expected to reopen Friday if gusts subside. Forecasters said the winds are expected to peak Thursday, but another strong wind event is expected this weekend.

Northerly winds are expected to return late Friday, and moderate to potentially strong Santa Ana winds are likely late Saturday into Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist David Sweet said.

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“If you feel like you haven’t experienced enough winds this winter, you can look forward to Sunday,” said Sweet, who is based in Oxnard.

A high-wind warning is in effect for the mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley through Thursday afternoon. An advisory for coastal and valley areas will end at 3 p.m.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District also issued a windblown dust and ash advisory for portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties through Thursday evening. High winds could whip up ash from recent wildfire burn scars, including the El Dorado fire and the Apple fire.


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