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Mandatory evacuations lifted near Big Bear Lake as wildfire grows to 1,200 acres amid California heat wave

Mandatory evacuations lifted near Big Bear Lake as wildfire grows to 1,200 acres amid California heat wave
The wildfire in the San Bernardino Mountains has grown to 1,200 acres. (Audrey Scranton / Handout via U.S. Forest Service)

Firefighters continued battling a wildfire Tuesday in the San Bernardino Mountains as flames spread into the rugged terrain amid a sweltering heat wave.

Mandatory evacuations were briefly issued for the area of Holcomb Valley Road and Highway 18 in Baldwin Lake, but the orders were lifted by 5:30 p.m., according to the Big Bear Fire Department.

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The evacuation order was prompted by an abrupt shift in winds, and the sheriff's station in Big Bear urged residents to be prepared in case of another sudden change.

The fire has burned 1,200 acres and was 10% contained Tuesday night, officials said. More than 1,000 firefighters were assigned to control the blaze.

(Len De Groot)

The blaze, dubbed the Holcomb fire, began about 3 p.m. Monday near Holcomb Valley Road and North Shore Drive, the Big Bear Fire Department said.

Flames chewed through dry chaparral and timber as it moved closer to Highway 18, which is closed between Baldwin Lake and Mitsubishi Plant roads, said U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Chon Bribiescas.

In what was the hottest day of the year so far in the mountains, two firefighters suffered heat-related injuries as the blaze spread across an estimated 850 acres in its first few hours, officials said.

Temperatures reached 89 degrees in the mountain area Monday, and on Tuesday, the high was near 86 degrees, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Wind gusts reached 20 mph, officials said.

"Having no cloud cover, high temperatures and those relative low humidities, it's going to burn pretty good," National Weather Service meteorologist Jimmy Taeger said.

Conditions are expected to improve slightly in the coming days as the heat spell subsides, he said.

The flames generated large plumes of smoke that were visible across the region. The smoke and wind prompted the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory, warning of unhealthy air in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains.

Staff writer Veronica Rocha and Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

8:50 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the growth of the fire.

6:55 p.m.: This article was updated with confirmation that the evacuations have been lifted.

4 p.m.: This article was updated with mandatory evacuations issues in Baldwin Lake.

9 a.m.: This article was updated with the fire's new acreage.

This article was first published at 6:45 a.m.

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