REDLANDS, Calif. – Firefighters with bulldozers worked to stop a fast-moving wildfire early Wednesday that destroyed two houses and prompted evacuations along the southern edge of the San Bernardino National Forest. The fire had covered an estimated 2,000 acres of brush, or just over 3 square miles, since starting Tuesday and was 10 percent contained, fire officials said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, said Jeff Goldberg, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.
Fire officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for tiny Mountain Home Village, a community of about 60 homes, and a nearby Christian camp. They also closed down a section of highway that runs through the area to Big Bear Lake. By late Tuesday, the fire was about a mile from Mountain Home Village.
Among those packing up clothes and valuables to leave was Kevin Bondy.
"I'm hoping we can return tomorrow, but you never know," Bondy said. "You want to be a little bit cautious."
North of Mountain Home Village, Angelus Oaks was under a voluntary evacuation. A layer of ash had blanketed the community of 300 people, said resident Brett Berens.
Elsewhere, higher humidity, decreased wind and temperatures that had fallen 10 to 15 degrees helped out the more than 1,500 people fighting the biggest fire in north-central Washington state.
By late Tuesday, the lightning-caused fire was estimated at 147,095 acres, or nearly 230 square miles, between Winthrop and Conconully in the Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests. It was about 48 percent contained, said spokesman Bud Nelson.