Authorities Friday told residents in the community of Pine Cove to prepare for possible evacuation as the Mountain fire continued to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest.
The small community is north of Idyllwild, which has been under mandatory evacuation orders along with Fern Valley and Trails End. California 243 has been closed south of Pine Cove to Mountain Center, said Steve Gut, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.
The massive blaze has burned more than 24,800 acres and is 15% contained, he said. The fire is burning in very steep and rugged terrain just east of the Mountain Center and Apple Canyon area.
To the north in Kern County, parts of the town of Lebec were being evacuated Friday after a wildfire broke out in the Grapevine, briefly blocking lanes on Interstate 5.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, homes near the Lebec town center were under an evacuation order. The fire has burned more than 700 acres.
The Mountain fire was by far the largest burning in the Southland, and late Friday Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Riverside County. Fire officials said air tankers and helicopters are continuing to drop water along the fire’s northwest edge to secure containment lines and stop the blaze from growing. More than 3,300 firefighters are involved.
The fire broke out Monday afternoon and quickly raced across dry chaparral, underbrush and trees. More than a dozen structures, including some homes, have been destroyed or damaged in the Bonita Vista and Pine Springs areas, authorities said. At least four vehicles were also destroyed, fire officials said.