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Smoke from Big Bear wildfire closes schools for second day

Smoke from Big Bear wildfire closes schools for second day
Flames from the Summit fire near Big Bear on Monday. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Schools in Big Bear Valley will remain closed for a second straight day Tuesday due to a wildfire burning near a ski resort in the San Bernardino National Forest.

The Summit fire did not grow overnight and remained 50% contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. All but one school remained closed because of poor air quality from smoke. Fallsvale School in Forest Falls is not affected by the smoke and will be open, the Bear Valley Unified School District said on Facebook.

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The Summit fire started Sunday afternoon and has burned 100 acres in steep terrain full of drought-parched brush and standing dead trees.

"There's some challenging terrain in there, so it's slow going," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Carol Underhill told The Times on Monday.  "But we're making lots of progress."

The blaze crawled toward the Big Bear community, but hundreds of firefighters quickly began attacking it while water-dropping helicopters and planes carrying flame retardant fought it from the air.

Authorities ordered evacuations that affected some 500 households Sunday evening – an order that was lifted at 2 p.m. Monday, Underhill said.

The National Weather Service predicted the area could see up to half an inch of rain amid thunderstorms and gusty winds Tuesday.

"We would like the rain. We don't like so much the wind and lightning," Underhill said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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