Rain helps crews gain on Lake fire in San Bernardino National Forest

 Lake fire

A giant plume of smoke from the Lake fire hovers over the windmills near the 10 Freeway last week.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters trying to rein in an 11-day-old wildfire in the San Bernardino Mountains got a little help Sunday as light rain fell over the area.

By early afternoon, “a pretty good cell of showers” was moving through the Inland Empire, including where the Lake fire continued to burn about 30,700 acres, said Uriah Hernandez, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

“If anything, it does help slow the fire’s progression,” he said.

The fire was 50% contained by Sunday, but officials said they expected that figure to rise throughout the day as fire crews continued to gain ground north and east of Onyx Peak.


Nearly 2,300 firefighters have battled the blaze on the ground and from the air since it started June 17, at a cost thus far of $27 million. Four firefighters have been injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

It has consumed one residence and three out buildings in the Burns Canyon area, which remained under an evacuation order Sunday. All other evacuations have been lifted, but U.S. Forest Service recreation areas in the wildfire zone remained closed.

Hiking trails in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area remain closed, as does the Pacific Crest Trail from Whitewater Preserve to Onyx Summit.


State Route 38 has been reopened to traffic, but local campgrounds remain closed and access from the route “will continue to be restricted to camp staff and recreation residence owners only,” the forest service said on its website.

National Weather Service forecasters say the fire area will continue to experience “monsoonal moisture” and the threat of thunderstorms through Friday.

“Dry lightning is kind of an issue tonight and tomorrow,” said meteorologist Rich Thompson. “As the week wears on the storms will be wetter. But that also impacts crews because it can make roads muddy and causes its own problems for firefighters.”

Above-normal temperatures and humidity will blanket all of Southern California this week, Thompson said, creating a chance for showers and thunderstorms in coastal regions overnight Sunday, as well as in the mountains and deserts. 

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