Firefighters continue making gains on Pilot fire, now 70% contained

The Pilot fire has burned thousands of acres in the mountains of San Bernardino County.


A wildfire in the mountains of San Bernardino County grew only slightly overnight, remaining under 8,000 acres, with 70% containment, officials said Thursday.

The Pilot fire has burned 7,899 acres and triggered evacuations and school closures since it was reported about noon Sunday. There are 1,584 firefighters battling the blaze.

Drastic improvements in containment were achieved by a fleet of helicopters and air tankers that attacked the fire, as well as the so-called containment lines that firefighters have built since the blaze began.


“We continue to make significant improvements in our line construction,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Bob Poole. “There was minimal fire activity overnight, in fact all through yesterday.”

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said voluntary evacuation advisories for Hesperia, Apple Valley and Summit Valley would be lifted by noon Thursday.

“We ask that residents returning to the evacuation zone please exercise caution,” the department said in an advisory.

Road closures through the area will be opened as well, including Arrowhead Lake Road from Hesperia Lake to Highway 173, Highway 173 from Highway 138 through Summit Valley, and Deep Creek Road from Rock Springs Road to the Spillway.

The Pacific Crest Trail will remain closed due to ongoing suppression efforts.

The Apple Valley, Hesperia and Oro Grande Unified school districts announced schools would be reopened Thursday.


As firefighters gained the upper hand on the Pilot fire, details emerged on the cause of the deadly 2015 Valley fire in Northern California.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released a report into the cause, which found a hot tub’s faulty wiring had ignited one of California’s most destructive wildfires.

The Valley fire killed four people, seriously injured four firefighters and destroyed more than 1,300 homes, according to Cal Fire.

At its peak, more than 4,000 firefighters battled the blaze, which cost nearly $57 million to extinguish. It became the third most destructive wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

Property owners John and Cindy Pinch of the town of Cobb are being investigated for possible criminal charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


For more California news, follow @brittny_mejia on Twitter.


Faulty hot tub caused deadly 2015 Northern California wildfire

Vigil held for 14-year-old boy shot and killed by LAPD: ‘Justice for Jesse’

41 displaced and 1 dog killed when raging fire rips through homes in Pico-Union



1:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details about voluntary evacuation advisories being lifted.

This article was originally published at 7:45 a.m.