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South fire burns 500 acres, destroys structures in San Bernardino County

Firefighters watch as a helicopter drops water
Firefighters watch as a helicopter drops water at the South fire, burning in Lytle Creek, San Bernardino County on Aug. 25.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

Firefighters in San Bernardino County continued to battle a brush fire north of Rialto late Wednesday that had destroyed structures and forced evacuations.

The South fire was burning near Sierra Avenue and Lytle Creek Road, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which responded to the blaze along with San Bernardino County and San Bernardino National Forest firefighters.

The fire had burned at least 500 acres by Wednesday night and was 0% contained, according to state fire officials. One firefighter was taken to a hospital with a minor injury.

The growing blaze was threatening at least 600 structures and prompted authorities to place 1,000 residents under mandatory evacuation orders, state fire officials said.

Firefighters were dispatched about 1:30 p.m. to a reported vegetation fire near Sierra Avenue and Interstate 15, said Battalion Chief Mike McClintock, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District.

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“The fire quickly spread through dry vegetation,” McClintock said.

Conditions remained dry and windy, he said. Dry fuel sources were contributing to the fire burning at a “moderate to rapid rate.”

At least 12 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, McClintock said.

“We’ve got more than 500 firefighters here, more than 50 engines, numerous air assets, bulldozers and hand crews,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough night for us. Biggest thing we’re preaching is have a plan. Be ready, set, go if we ask you to evacuate.”

An information call center has been set up at (909) 383-5688, county firefighters said.

An evacuation center has been set up at the Jessie Turner Health and Fitness Community Center, 15556 Summit Ave. in Fontana, county firefighters said. A large-animal shelter has been set up at the Devore Animal Shelter, 19777 Shelter Way in San Bernardino.

“Firefighters continue to work on structure defense and perimeter control,” officials said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has ordered all residents in areas north of Lytle Creek Ranger Station on Lytle Creek Road to shelter in place.

Evacuation orders are in place for all residents of Lytle Creek Road south of the ranger station, west of Sierra Avenue, north of Interstate 15 and east of Duncan Canyon to the foothills, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Evacuation warnings are in place for areas north of Glen Helen Parkway, east of the intersection of Sierra Avenue and Lytle Creek Road, and west of I-15, the Sheriff’s Department said.

On- and off-ramps to I-15 were closed in the area, according to officials. Heavy traffic was reported, and drivers were urged to take other routes to avoid the closures.



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